Battling stigma is part of the job

Annabel Mowat is deputy chief executive for Birchwood Highland.


Modern technology allows me to check e-mails, good news and any incidents before I’ve stepped on to the floor so I have a very good idea of what’s gone on overnight in general and specifically at the Recovery Centre – my phone sleeps by my bedside even when I’m not on call.

I car-share most days although sometimes take the train – a good reason to walk to work from the railway station.

Birchwood Highland has achieved Healthy Working Lives gold award status, so we’re encouraged as a team to keep both physically and mentally fit. For me, walking is a good way of achieving this.

Annabel Mowat

Once I’m at work, some days I go straight into external meetings, other days it’s into our morning huddle where the team reflect on anything relevant to our work.

Here we share ideas, consider ways to  continually improve ways of supporting residents as well as ensuring that the environment is the best it can be for us all.

Working to the highest standards possible has always been really important to me, and as a manager and leader I work hard with the team to ensure that this ethos prevails at the Recovery Centre.

Our role is to support people as they work towards their own mental health recovery.

I manage a service where we employ an experienced multi-disciplinary team to enable and support people with enduring mental health issues as they engage in their own mental health recovery.

Often the people we support have spent significant periods in hospital and we believe that recovery is helped by offering person-centred support and the opportunity to experience things that many of us consider ordinary and everyday.


What’s that? A challenge sometimes to find time for it.

Lunch Club happens here twice weekly at least at the Recovery Centre, and whenever the opportunity presents for me I like to join the residents and staff for a really nice, healthy meal prepared jointly by residents and staff.

I love those opportunities as there’s a really homely, relaxed atmosphere with lots of discussions about all sorts, laughs and recipe ideas shared.


My afternoon usually revolves around more meetings and spending time at the Recovery Centre.

A great big building, it is home to our residents, so we’re constantly upgrading the environment and keeping it as nice as possible inside and out.

We use the produce we grow in the gardens to make wholesome soups and meals and many of the other goings-on taking place in the centre are the same as those which happen every day in most households, except on a larger scale.


It can be 9am one minute and then before I know it my lift home is leaving in 15 minutes, so I sometimes take work home. Luckily my family and my partner in particular are very supportive and they understand why work is so important to me.

Annabel Mowat

Over the years, I have developed a passion for social justice and equality.  Whenever I can, I use my voice to challenge the stigma and discrimination that many people living with significant and enduring mental health issues sadly still experience.  

At Birchwood Highland, we do this every day by organising activities such as the recent Walk a Mile event as part of See Me Scotland’s campaign.

I feel really privileged to love my work and to be part of Birchwood Highland’s Recovery Centre where people themselves are putting a great deal of effort into their own mental health recovery, and that they give me the chance to continually learn alongside them.

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