Veterans: Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Implementation Board minutes - June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 15 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair
  • Maura Lynch, Scottish Government
  • Alistair Cook, Scottish Government
  • Thelma Bowers, North Ayrshire HSCP
  • Martin Bell, NHS NSS
  • Neil Morrison, Veterans Scotland
  • Eric Fraser, Ex-Veterans Commissioner
  • Michelle Ramage, Veterans First Point
  • Jane Menzies, Combat Stress
  • Susan Bomphrey, Co-Chair SG Veterans Employability


  • Mairi McKinley, NHS Fife
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Sharon Findlay, Defence Primary Healthcare Services

Items and actions

Conflicts of interest

It was noted that there are no conflicts of interest.

Welcome and introductions

CW invited the board to introduce themselves. He also asked if anyone had any questions about their involvement in the board. No questions were raised.

Launching the board

CW introduced Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care. Mr Stewart launched the board and endorsed the action plan advising he is looking forward to working with the board with a view to improving the mental health and wellbeing of veterans.

Perspective on the landscape

CW reminded the board of the three principles of the action plan:

  • equal access to services
  • clear and timely pathways to correct help
  • improve support to providers

He asked the board to consider his vision on how to implement this. The vision is that by June 2024 the board are able to handover a robust veterans’ mental health and wellbeing service reporting to the Minister on a quarterly basis.

This will be achieved with effective and timely support delivered by staff trained to work with veterans supported by data systems which mean veterans only have to tell their story once. It will also be achieved by communications which locate local services, a sustainable local budget and by research which informs future strategies linked to related support.

The board agreed to this way forward.

Terms of reference for comment (paper one)

CW asked that the board helped with making a decision on the quorum of the membership of the group and the details of the meetings within the terms of reference and asked that the board agreed with Combat Stress being support, taking over from NSS. A question was raised about the logistics of Combat Stress being support and it was advised that there would be two dedicated members of staff directed by the board.

EF raised a concern about there being a conflict of interest with Combat Stress as they are receiving funding and that there needs to be a clear boundary between service delivery and work on the board. Any conflicts of interest should be dealt with directly by the board and as a board member, Combat Stress would step back from anything which may cause conflict. ML advised that that the management of the fund is separate and that Scottish Government will be managing that. Combat Stress will report to the board not Scottish Government.

The board agreed the Combat Stress should be support.

Action: ML to draw up the necessary contracts.

With regards to the operation of the board, the board agreed that meetings should take place quarterly with scope to extend the meetings, moving around the country to get local updates. It was agreed that there would be a quorum of nine of its membership.

Action: The terms of reference will be reviewed on an annual basis with the next review June 2023.


ML provided an update on financial resources from the Scottish Government. Combat Stress has been awarded £1.4 million to provide a Scotland-wide mental health service to veterans. £666,000 has been awarded to six health boards with them providing match funding of 50%. The NSS Network with regards to the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan has been awarded £100,000 (2020/21), £207,827 (2021/22) and £420,000 (2022/23). The board have a budget of £120,000 for 2022/23.

ML explained that there has been budget cuts across the Scottish Government and funding cannot be committed beyond this year as yet.

Concern was raised about whether the budget will meet the demand of the work. ML advised that until the work starts we have no way of knowing if it will meet demand. The board will decide the budget and what additional budget might be needed.

Proposed worksteams (paper two)

The Board were asked to consider the proposed work workstreams for the first year and to provide comments and agreement. This will form the basis of the yearone business plan and work schedule for the management team.

Business planning - agreed

Business plan will be drafted.

NHS board liaison - agreed

Another strand of work should be added to include the third sector.

Data integration - agreed

Work is currently underway in the Scottish Government looking at joining up primary care data and others on the board are part of this. The work on this workstream needs to be joined up with other work going on in other areas.

ML advised that the Veterans Mental Health Team, Veterans Physical Health and Veteran’s Unit within the Scottish Government work closely together and said that she can be the point of contact to ensure that all the work is linked.

Dashboard - agreed

Branding, website, helpdesk and communications - agreed

NM advised that there is a website used in Wales which is worth looking at with regards to ideas for the website and branding.

Inclusivity - agreed

The Minister mentioned LBGTQ+ specifically and there is a concern that if funding is not available this will be relegated as not being a high priority as it often is.

ML advised that this is a priority for Scottish Government and a commission will be coming to Scotland to look at the experiences of those pre-2000 when it was against the law to be LGBTQ+ in the armed forces. The commissioner has not been appointed yet and it will be a UK-wide commission.

Research hub – agreed

CW advised that Dr Geri Matthews-Smith has offered to be an independent advisor who will work with Combat Stress and will provide updates. The board agreed with this suggestion.

The board support Combat Stress taking the workstreams forward.

Action: Workstream around NHS liaison to be expanded to include strand of work on the third sector and what they are doing.

See Me campaign presentation

Nick Jedrzjewski presented to the board around the campaign See Me are launching with regards to veterans’ mental health. See Me have so far met with Combat Stress and Veterans Scotland and have held their first engagement session with veterans. They are looking to create a campaign which will help veterans ask for help earlier and ask the board to help with the engagement with veterans and to ensure that they are on the right track.

Next steps will include a further engagement session on 22 June with the campaign to be created after that. The theatre development sessions will begin at the end June running through until August with a view to the campaign being launched in September.

See Me will report to Scottish Government, Combat Stress and the Chair of the board.

Veterans First Point offered to help facilitate and with representation.

A question was raised about how the impact of the campaign can be judged and it was suggested that a tool could be created on the website.

It was asked that the board have sight of the final product before it goes live.

Any other business

No other business was noted.

Date of next meeting

Proposed dates for the next two meetings are 15 September and 15 December. An email will be sent to the board to canvass for suitable dates.

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