Bringing innovation to IAPT – Marcus is our NHS Hero

After qualifying in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and making a “now or never” move to work in mental health, Marcus Leonard became increasingly impressed and intrigued by a psychological therapy system which would soon become the most successful and effective in the world.

Marcus, who is originally from Bolton (no likey, no lighty!) and now lives in Standish, Wigan, works as an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Pan Trust Manager, based across both Dudley and Walsall.

IAPT, more commonly known as talking therapies, began in 2008 and has transformed the treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression in England.

Marcus’ journey with IAPT began whilst he was studying business studies as a mature student; he completed some psychology modules and ending up switching his course to psychology and philosophy.

“The head of unit at the time invited me to join the talking therapies programme, and after I qualified, I began my career in a medium secure psychiatrist unit, specialising in eating disorders and head injury.

“I observed IAPT with mixed opinions, and I became concerned about how a practitioner could lose their autonomy and therapeutic flare to a business-like machine giving out treatment,” said Marcus.

“This inspired me to put my all into my role, and to come up with creative and innovative ideas to support people with mental health difficulties. I’ve become passionate about making IAPT work and about it being an asset to the Trust and the community.”

The talking therapies team regularly attend events, working closely with mental health charities and promoting the service by being available to those who feel they need support in coping with everyday life.

This year, a short film titled ‘Breaking Point’ was launched on International Men’s Day, which highlights the importance of men speaking out about their mental health, and how feeling better starts with a conversation; whether it be with family, friends or a professional. This message also resonates on Time to Talk Day, which takes place on Thursday 6 February.

Outside of work, Marcus can usually be found riding his favourite motorbike or spending time with his best mate Buddy, his adorable dog.

“Don’t tell the Mrs I said that!” Marcus laughed.

To get away from it all, he loves to travel and tries to holiday most years, as this is something he really enjoys.

Marcus added: “Meeting different cultures and communities is a real treat – I would highly recommend it!”

So who is Marcus’ hero?

“Everyone at DWMH could easily be in this category – particularly the people at Trust HQ who tirelessly support me, with only my humour in return!

If you ever get a chance – spend five minutes with Medical Director, Dr Mark Weaver, he is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” he said.

Marcus’ mental health message: “Live kindly – everyone is trying their best, and mistakes are proof that they are trying.”