Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Working Group minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Working Group on 19 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment, and Training (Chair)
  • Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care
  • Debbie Browett, Scottish Government
  • Steven Paxton, Scottish Government
  • Adam Rendall, Scottish Government
  • Daniel McCarron, Scottish Government
  • David Leitch, Scottish Government
  • Lauren Knight, Universities Scotland
  • Fiona Drouet, Emily Test
  • Julie Sinclair, SAAS
  • Lorna Caldwell, SAAS
  • Ronnie Millar, University of Edinburgh and Heads of University Counselling Services
  • Jill Stevenson, AMOSSHE
  • Katie Perrin, University of Stirling
  • Tom Hall, Colleges Scotland
  • Brian Magee, COSCA
  • Steve Mulligan, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Emma Roberts, Scottish Funding Council
  • Craig Smith, SAMH
  • Allie Scott, UHI
  • Liam Furby, NUS Scotland
  • Katie Gilbert, NUS Think Positive
  • Hannah Axon, COSLA
  • Stef Black, SPARQS
  • Clare Parks, QAA
  • Dr Richmond Davies, Public Health Scotland
  • Stew Fowlie, Scottish Student Sport
  • Audrey Malloy, UNISON


  • Professor Pamela Gillies, Glasgow Caledonian University and Universities Scotland
  • Jon Vincent, Glasgow Clyde College
  • Marianne Reilly, Unite the Union
  • Lorcan Mullen, UNISON
  • Kirsten Amis, Glasgow Clyde College
  • Eileen Imlah, EIS

Items and actions

Introduction, welcome and apologies

Mr Hepburn welcomed everyone to the first meeting since the Group’s reformation and noted apologies as above.

Draft terms of reference

Mr Hepburn invited the Group to comment on the draft Terms of Reference (TOR).

Members requested that the TOR make reference to the Group’s work being linked to ongoing initiatives that currently sit within the wider mental health strategy.

Action: Scottish Government officials to update the Draft TOR and present it to members for approval at the next meeting in June.

Proposed timeline and topics for future discussion

Mr Hepburn introduced the proposed timeline for the Group’s activities and acknowledged the demanding work schedule. It was put to the Group for comment.

Lauren Knight (Universities Scotland), suggested moving the topic of Student Poverty to later in the year in order to include the findings and recommendations from Universities Scotland’s Roundtable Discussion on Student Poverty in September 2022.

Liam Furby (NUS Scotland), commented that NUS Scotland would be happy to contribute on the link between student poverty and mental health, with reference to NUS Scotland’s report “Broke: How Scotland is failing its students”.

Jill Stevenson (AMOSSHE), requested a greater focus in the work plan on pathways and the joining up of institutions with NHS services; work on suicide prevention and postvention; and drugs and addiction.

Action: Scottish Government officials to take members comments into consideration when revising the timeline.

Outline of a student mental health action plan

Mr Hepburn invited the Group to comment on the Scottish Government’s current draft outline of a Student Mental Health Action Plan, acknowledging that members will have opportunity for further comment as our work progresses.

Dr Richmond Davies (Public Health Scotland), advised that Public Health Scotland can provide statistical data on students by geographical area which may be instructive to the development of the Action Plan.

Tom Hall (Colleges Scotland), highlighted the importance of maintaining a consistency of support services for students transitioning between school, college and university at the various stages of their academic journey.

Steve Mulligan (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy), asked that the development of an Action Plan includes an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Scottish Government’s existing commitments, e.g. funding of additional counsellors.

Jill Stevenson (AMOSSHE), commented that the Action Plan should be informed by evidence and evaluation, student experience, and partnership working.

Action: Scottish Government officials to revise the Outline, as per the Group’s comments.

Student mental health action plan: evidence gathering

Mr Hepburn referred to the Scottish Government’s Table of Evidence in support of the development of a Student Mental Health Action Plan and invited members to suggest any further resources that may be instructive to the formation of the Action Plan.

Members suggested a number of resources which Scottish Government officials agreed to add to the Table of Evidence.

Action: Scottish Government officials to update the Table of Evidence with member’s suggestions.


Tom Hall made reference to a joint letter which Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland, and NUS Scotland sent to Mr Hepburn regarding the Student Mental Health Action Plan and funding for additional mental health counsellors

Mr Hepburn advised he will respond to the letter directly.

Date of next meeting

Mr Hepburn advised the Group that the next meeting will take place in late June 2022.

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