During my visits across the Highlands and Islands during this summer recess, I’ve had many opportunities to learn about the work so many organisations and groups are doing to support their local communities, and how I can help them in my role as their regional MSP.
Several mental health organisations have featured among my visits in the region. It has been heartening to hear about the great work these folk have been doing to help deal with mental health issues in the Highlands and Islands, which has been one of my key priorities since my election last year.
As I write, I’m about to take part in two days of training for my role as a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee. We will have a focus on human rights-based training and effective scrutiny training to prepare us for the coming year of committee work.
With recess coming to an end and the return to Holyrood due in the first week of September, I am excited for the year ahead. I am looking forward to scrutinising the National Care proposals and also to acting on the report published in early July by the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, entitled Robbing Peter to pay Paul: Low income and the debt trap.
Among the many recommendations that this report makes are several around mental health and debt. The committee members were deeply concerned by the clear links between debt and mental ill-health, and the reported level of suicidal ideation. We noted that the Scottish Government is intending to develop a new long-term suicide prevention strategy for Scotland, which is due to be published in September, but also that there is no reference to debt in the Scottish Government’s 20017-2027 Mental Health Strategy. For that reason, we are urging the Scottish Government to give particular consideration to debt within the Suicide Prevention Strategy and any future work on the Mental Health Strategy.
Given the overlap between debt problems and mental health issues, there is also a need for money advice services to be better able to meet the needs of people with mental health conditions.
With the cost-of-living crisis only likely to get worse before it gets better, this kind of work will be both urgent and critical in the weeks and months ahead.
We will have a better idea of the scale of the problem when the energy price cap rise for 1st October becomes known this Friday.
With that in mind, I will be holding a surgery in Kirkwall during my visit to Orkney on 31st August.
This is a great opportunity to raise local issues with me. I’m here to offer support and assistance and I encourage anyone in the area to come along.
Having said that, folk don’t need to wait for planned surgeries to contact me.
- I can be reached by telephone on 01463 563036,
- by post at Emma Roddick MSP,M3.01a The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP, or
- by email at Emma.Roddick.firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a regular column by SNP MSP Emma Roddick. All Highlands and Islands Regional MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal viewpoint.