Involving people in planning as a route to changing their own behaviours

There are eight Equally Well test sites across Scotland covering Equally Well priorities and sponsored by the Scottish Government. The Dundee Equally Well test site aims to improve community mental wellbeing and is centred on the development of services, with the mental health improvement logic model at its core. Sheila McMahon is Equally Well Lead Officer for the Dundee Healthy Living Initiative.

With focus on improving the mental wellbeing of a disadvantaged community, Sheila wanted to find out the views of Stobswell residents before developing the test site's work. A team of local service providers was engaged from the outset. It established a working group to develop tools to carry out community engagement in partnership with the test site.

The local service providers played a crucial role in gaining ‘buy in’ to the process, enabling first-hand views of people in Stobswell to be heard on factors affecting mental wellbeing.

Sheila explains, ‘We spent six months developing and implementing the process, indicators and tools, and creating a questionnaire so we could compare data locally and nationally. Discussions were held to encourage people to talk about how living in Stobswell impacted on mental wellbeing.’

Lynne Friedli, mental health promotion specialist and test site mentor, presented a report, findings and evidence on influences on mental wellbeing at a series of logic model workshops for stakeholders. ‘We worked hard to make sure that the logic model approach wasn’t scary,’ states Sheila. ‘We wanted to make clear the outcomes framework is based on best evidence for mental wellbeing.’

Impact and results

Feedback on the engagement process was presented to a range of partners including Dundee City Council and the Single Outcome Agreement Partnership. From the findings from the engagement process, a programme was developed.

Sheila explains, ‘We asked people ‘we now know what makes a difference, can your organisation do anything about it?’ Some stakeholders met with other organisations they’d never worked with before, some asked for help reaching people and looking at different approaches.

‘The test site is a process to build capacity and change behaviours, if that’s necessary. The project shows that, when you involve people and give the opportunity to reflect on what and how they do it, this can change behaviours. If all the organisations behave a little differently to clients experiencing poor mental health, it could be hugely influential.’

Wider implications for learning and workforce development

By involving people in the logic modelling and planning sessions they had the opportunity to reflect on and adapt their own practice and behaviours. The logic-modelling activity is in itself a learning activity and impacts on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of those involved. More evidence of how this translates into behaviour change would continue to build confidence in this approach.


Information on logic models Equally Well test sites


Sheila McMahon, Team Leader (Strategic Development)/Equally Well Lead Officer, Dundee Healthy Living Initiative. 01382 435852