SAMH Route Map Reflection

Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Journey - Sarah Pryde-Smith, Business Operations Manager

At the end of 2021, we were made aware of a strategic partnership between sportscotland and SAMH which aimed to build understanding, confidence and capacity across sport and physical activity communities. Part of this included the SAMH route map, made up of a series of learning and development opportunities for the sporting network, including Bowls Scotland as the Scottish Governing Body for Lawn Bowls. 

After discussing with our staff, we made the commitment to progress through the route map and made a start in early 2022. Fast forward 12 months and we were delighted to become the first SGB to complete the route map. 

Tina Hodge, Physical Activity Partnership & Development Co-ordinator for SAMH, had this to say about our journey:

Over a period of 12 months throughout 2022 to 2023, Bowls Scotland engaged with SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental Health). The staff team took part in over 14 hours of mental health and wellbeing training as part of our sportscotland Route Map that is formed of six key sessions and a team reflection session. Bowls Scotland were the first SGB in Scotland to complete our Route Map to build awareness and skills around creating a mentally healthy environment. It has been very encouraging to see the staff team connect, build deeper relationships and have mental health conversations, not just within their team but with members, partners, and stakeholders. They have also shown their dedication and motivation to use this learning to create new policies, new initiatives and continue to work with SAMH to provide further training and opportunities for volunteers and coaches.

“Bowls Scotland are also a key player in some of SAMH’s wider work within Physical Activity and Sport. They have become a Mental Health Charter Signatory and continue to promote this within their clubs. The team are also part of our Young Women in Sport Leadership programme which aims to help young women in sport build confidence, knowledge and awareness of mental health and wellbeing and leadership skills thought mentoring and a series of workshops.”

As Business Operations Manager, I wanted to give an honest reflection on our journey through the route map and our continued commitment to ensuring mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is a priority. When we embarked on the route map journey, we had a change in Chair, staff turnover and other challenges along the way, which could have derailed our journey but as a team, we made mental health and wellbeing in the workplace a priority.

Whilst we are very proud to become the first SGB to complete the route map, this was not a target or achievement that was in our minds at all. It was an opportunity to put some structured training and opportunities for our staff to come together and be connected and upskill at the same time. The journey was just as important as the outcome.

Some observations:

  • All our staff engaged in the sessions, they did not just turn up, they were vulnerable, they were honest, they shared experiences that we probably had not given them the platform before to do.
  • The SAMH team were excellent, with some very difficult topics to cover, they allowed time for discussion, time for reflection, time for check ins, and it really felt like they were part of Team Bowls – it felt natural, not forced.
  • We learned about each other, and this was probably the main aim for me, to get better connected. As a team, we are close, but this journey brought us closer. As Senior Managers, we learned a lot about stress levels, what people were comfortable with, and what support was required.
  • How do we engage new members of staff with our mental health and wellbeing journey. Mop up sessions with other SGB's whilst valuable was not really what we wanted to do. We wanted the journey to be a collective one, the balance was always going to be ensuring our staff were upskilled but also engaged in the process collectively.
  • We were approaching our last session which was suicide prevention and I suggested to the SAMH team that we might want to add a reflections session after so not to finish on such a difficult topic. The reflection session was good, it allowed us to round up the learnings, and capture thoughts from the team.

After our route map journey had been completed, we considered what our next steps would be to continue work in this important area. We were fortunate to get additional funding from sportscotland to recruit an Equality, inclusion, and Welfare Manager. Within this role, is an element of mental health and wellbeing for staff and whilst it’s everyone’s responsibility, we needed a bit of leadership within this area. We were thrilled to welcome Roz Asli back in July last year, and she immediately set about introducing a Friday team huddle; an optional, 30-minute session where staff grab a cuppa and get better connected. These sessions are followed up with signposting from Roz for mental health and wellbeing resources and an offer of individual catch ups, if required. In addition, Roz has an open-door policy, staff can get in touch and chat about their health and wellbeing in a confidential space.

Whilst our team huddles and safe spaces for conversations are great, we need to back it up with policy to safeguard these for the future. As we review our policies and processes, we need to look at these through a mental health and wellbeing lens and this is something we are committed to do.  There has unfortunately been some occasions recently where our staff have needed to draw on the training, resources, and discussion from SAMH to help protect their mental health and wellbeing. We will continue to ensure our staff are protected and are committed to ensuring mental health and wellbeing are a top priority.

Bowls Scotland are continuing to engage with SAMH, through our sign up to the Mental Health Charter; providing education and learning for our volunteers, coaches, and players as part of our Annual Club, Coach and Volunteer Development Calendar; inviting SAMH to our National Championships to chat to players and spectators.

We will soon be sharing our action plan as part of our signatory to the SAMH Mental Health Charter, and we would encourage members to take a look and consider what is happening in this space within club environments.

More information on SAMH and other Mental Health and Wellbeing resources can be found here:

SAMH (Scotland’s Association for Mental Health)

Whether you’re looking for information, seeking support or just want to have a chat about mental health, SAMH are here to help. Individuals can also access speaking to an advisor through the Live Web Chat on their website, which pops up when an advisor is available.

Available: 9am until 6pm Monday to Friday

Phone: 0344 800 0550



Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a helpline that offers information and advice through experienced advisors from a range of mental health, counselling, and social work backgrounds.

Available: 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday until 6am Monday) and 6pm until 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday)

Phone: 0800 83 85 87

Textphone: 18001 0800 83 85 87



SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline. They offer specialist guidance, information, and emotional support to anyone affected by mental illness.

Available: 4pm – 10pm every day of the year

Phone: 0300 304 7000


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