Scottish Action for Mental Health Leadership Programme reflections

Bowls Scotland is delighted to have our very own Holly Hamilton (National Development Officer) and Sarah Pryde-Smith (Business Operations Manager) involved in the Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH) and Scottish Women in Sport (SWiS) Young Women in Sport Leadership Programme 2023/24.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Sarah and Holly provided some reflections as they approach the final few months of being part of the programme.

Q1. What made you want to be part of the programme?

HH: “I believed that this programme was a great opportunity for me to develop my leadership skills, expand my knowledge and understanding about Mental Health and Wellbeing within leadership roles, specifically in a sporting setting, and a great way to expand my network within the sporting community. What really caught my eye about the programme, was the female mentorship that is part of the journey, having that space to talk about past experiences within sport and how they can shape paths to your future, pieces of advice from others who have gone through similar situations and just having a friend in the community. This was something that I knew I would benefit greatly from.”

SPS: “I have been so lucky to have had supportive colleagues, both male and female, that have championed and guided me as a female leader within sport. I feel I am a good role model for young female leaders, and I wanted to give something back, perhaps make a difference and provide the same support that I’ve had throughout my 20 years as a sports development professional. I am a huge advocate of women supporting other women so being part of this programme just made sense.”

Q2. What have you enjoyed most about the programme, so far?

HH: “The programme has been amazing so far! The best part of the programme is the other young women on the journey with me. It is great to hear about all of the different experiences that other young women have had so far within sport, both positive and negative, and getting advice on how to work through different situations. Online sessions are always extremely informative so far we have learned out identity within sport and as a leader, coping and managing stress and maintaining Mental Health and Wellbeing for myself and for others.

“In-person meet ups are another great part of the programme, you can create bonds with others that can’t be created online. We’ve had inspiring talks from Maureen McGonigle from SWiS and Aileen Nelson, a talented Paralympic Curler, both women gave us great advice on how to work through negativity, setbacks and the importance of believing in yourself. I have taken a lot away from listening to these successful women in sport such as; failure is good… you don’t get the highs if you don’t have the lows; criticism is good (as long as it is constructive!); trust the people beside you on your journey and take risks… it’s good to get out of your comfort zone!

“I have also really enjoyed being on this journey with Sarah! Sarah is such a positive role model for all of the young women on the programme and has taught me so much about working in sport already.”

SPS: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey with my colleague Holly, both at different stages in our careers and leadership journey but sharing this experience together has been really special. The full day catch up sessions have been great and hearing from female leaders on their journey is inspiring.”

Q3. Have you faced any challenges being on the programme?

HH: “The only big challenge that I have faced being on this programme has been opening up to others. In the past, I have been made to feel that mental health and wellbeing is a taboo subject and not to bring it up, so opening up to other young women on this journey was really challenging for me. However, thanks to this programme, and the programme leaders, I have overcome this challenge, and I am now open and honest about mental health, in both my personal life and my work life. Mental health is just as important (if not more important) as physical health, and that is something that I will always remember!”

SPS: “I think my personal challenge is questioning if I am making enough of a difference or providing enough support to my mentee. Balancing working in a busy bowls environment, with family life and being a mentor can quite often leave me feeling if I am making the biggest difference I can. I think this is typical of female leaders, trying to do everything and be everything!

Q4. What would you say to any young female thinking about joining the programme?

HH: “Go for it! It is a great experience. Meeting new people, learning from others experiences and expanding your knowledge on mental health and wellbeing and incorporating it into your life. The programme has brought me out of my shell and has made me feel more confident in a room full of people.”

SPS: “I think being part of a group of people is always special, the human connections you make, especially in sport, will last a lifetime. You will share experiences and I think that makes you feel you’re not alone. Women are underrepresented in leadership roles within sport so having strong female role models and being part of a network of women is a good place to start on your leadership journey. Just go for it!”



Our partners, suppliers and supporters...