WATCH: Highlands and Islands MSP highlights mental health in first speech

In her first speech in Parliament on 1st June 2021, Emma Roddick addressed the ongoing mental health crisis that is especially acute in the Highlands and Islands, drawing attention to the fact that loneliness and isolation are an ongoing problem in rural communities and warning that these issues cannot be ignored during the recovery period.

You can watch the speech below:

Ms Roddick said:

“I strongly believe that we need to get real about the things which are making people ill in the Highlands and Islands: lack of transport, lack of affordable housing and jobs, and lack of the right mental health services in the right places.

“This is an issue across Scotland, but the three areas with the highest suicide rates in the country are in the Highlands and Islands.

“We can use lines about Orkney and Inverness being the happiest places in the UK to brag to and bring in tourists, but that outlook is of no comfort to the people looking lonely out their window at the scenery, considering whether or how to take their own life. 

“As we recover from one pandemic, we underestimate the magnitude of the other one at our own risk.”

Addressing her predecessor, Maree Todd, Ms Roddick called on her to improve the lives of women by tackling shortcomings in NHS services in Scotland and in rural communities in Todd’s new role as Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport. She said: 

“I’m glad not to have to say any goodbyes to the person who held this seat for the SNP before me, as Maree has been returned as a constituency MSP and moved to the Health brief in government, which comes with enormous opportunities.

“I hope that during our health recovery she will take those opportunities to tackle shortcomings in treatment and management of endometriosis and menopause, in trans healthcare, and in access to abortion which is free of obstruction and harassment.”