Creating change

Understand more about changing attitudes and behaviour by planning, implementing and learning from change

An overview

Change networks are interested in ... change! Historically, there has been a focus on changing attitudes but by participating in a Change Network, we invest in changing behaviours as well.

Change happens in a variety of ways, but mainly through protest, education and social contact.   Click on the tabs to find out more.



Protest aims to challenge and reduce stigmatising messages regarding mental health such as negative reporting in newspapers. This approach appears to be effective in reducing the frequency of negative messages and the act of participating in a protest activity may be empowering for individuals. However, protest may result in the negative messages being reinforced in the public’s mind if they are not replaced with more positive messages.



Education aims to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health problems, thereby changing attitudes leading to behaviour change. While education programmes do appear to be effective in changing attitudes, little research has been carried out into whether effects are sustained in the longer term.




Social Contact

Social contact aims to challenge stigmatising attitudes through planned interactions between people who have experienced mental health problems and members of targeted groups. Socialcontact appears to be effective even in those who hold the most stigmatising attitudes and should be targeted, local, credible and continuous. Social contact is ineffective when a power imbalance exists between the members of the stigmatised and stigmatising groups.





We know that change doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it is vital to create conditions and conversations for change to happen. Understanding the existing environment can help projects to locate and build on existing action, and navigate potential barriers. Click the tabs to find out more about how to manage change.


Value the Process

Value the process and process the values: In contact theory, change happens through learning and sharing and taking into account different backgrounds and perspectives. Having clearly articulated values is vital, but not without its own challenges. Can basing the process on values be a challenge to funders? Is the value of co-production compatible with modern funding techniques?

Lead the Change

There is evidence to suggest that change needs good leadership. In our view, leadership entails:

  • Different people with different skills and roles working towards change – we do what we’re good at and maybe learn something new.
  • Bridging these people, their experience and their skills
  • Good stakeholder management (networking as a collective)
  • Being driven by values
  • Equality of power on an individual and organizational level
  • Asking the right questions and looking for what people want and need


Measure Change

Increasingly there is pressure to understand if and how projects are making change happen in communities. We believe that measures of change need to be developed early in a change process, rather than after the fact. Change can be measured in lots of ways: attitudes, behaviours, values, efficiency and even in terms of financial impact.  Using the Theory of Change as a tool can help measuring change by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then working back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur.

Handling Failure

Failure is a vital part of the change process and can be important for learning and moving forwards. We believe in celebrating failure and sharing openly what works and what doesn’t work. Read about celebrating failure here.

Learn more about creating change