Letters to the editor – June 11, 2021

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Young people and mental health


Resourcing mental health treatment for young people has never been more important, after new statistics from Public Health Scotland indicated that 161 young people in the NHS Highland area sought treatment between January and March 2021.

Sadly, the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of many young people across the country including here in the Highlands and Islands.

We should remember that the consequences of this can be long-lasting. As the report notes, the majority of adult mental health problems begin in childhood with 50 per cent of mental health problems established by age 14.

This is a reason why my party will continue to push for 10 per cent of the health budget in Scotland to be spent directly on tackling mental health issues.

Although NHS Highland’s waiting time track record is better than the Scottish average, with 75.2 per cent people seen within 18 weeks, that is still well below the Scottish Government’s own target of at least 90 per cent of patients being seen within that timeframe.

It has never been more important to ensure that young people receive the help they need, when they need it.

 Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP


Let’s paws plastic


The Scottish SPCA is pledging 500 miles to Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Summer Clean.

Keep Scotland Beautiful is asking people to pledge time to pick up litter over the campaign from May 28 until June 20 where one hour equals three miles.

Staff members across the society will be taking part in the Paws on Plastic initiative, alongside Keep Scotland Beautiful’s campaign, encouraging people to pick up at least two pieces of litter per dog walk.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity received 273 calls to its helpline about animals affected by litter from January to May.

That’s almost two incidents every day and a similar figure to the same period in 2020 when there were 265 accounts.

We see first-hand the devastating consequences litter can have on animals. Seals and birds get caught up in fishing line or wire or animals can ingest small pieces of rubbish and choke or die.

The sad thing is that these injuries and deaths are entirely avoidable if people just disposed of their rubbish responsibly.

We are proud to be making a difference by taking part in Paws on Plastic for the Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Summer Clean.

The Scottish SPCA is dedicated to improving the lives of animals through protecting environments and habitats to ensure Scotland’s wildlife can thrive for years to come.

Picking up litter will help people respect their environment and protect animals from the dangers of litter.

No matter how small, it has the potential to be hazardous or lethal to pets, wildlife and farm animals.

The public should exercise caution and be careful when picking up litter and we ask that children taking part be accompanied by a responsible adult.

We recommend picking up litter with a dog bag or litter picker to avoid direct contact with any litter and do not pick up anything that could be harmful like glass or sharp objects.

Any syringes found should not be picked up but reported to the local authority emergency waste uplift informing them of the location of the syringe.

Anything that can be done to protect animals is so appreciated and it will have a wonderful effect on the local community too.

Mike Flynn, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent


Questioning Scotland’s presence


It was disappointing to find one of the new Tory MSPs has written to the UK Foreign Office questioning Scotland’s international presence.

I call it disappointing as even before devolution in 1999 Scotland had a Brussels office, which was established under these same Tories. This presence was developed under Labour and the Liberal Democrats and has been continued since 2007 by the SNP.

Now there is a network of offices around the world that promotes Scotland, its economy and tourism.

Scotland House in Brussels, for example, acts as the eyes and ears of the Scottish Government, Scotland Europa, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

It is an effective platform to manage diplomatic engagement, economic engagement and cultural promotion.

Scotland is one of more than 300 regional and sub-state authorities, including 28 from Germany, 21 from Italy and 18 from Poland.

And non-EU states like Norway are also represented by six regional offices.

Indeed, Scotland has a smaller international presence than many sub-states such as Bavaria, Flanders and Quebec.

In addition, Denmark and Belgium give the Faroes, Greenland and Flanders officials parity of esteem, and work together with central government, recognising the important role they play.

While everyone else is doing their best to promote themselves, it is bizarre, but maybe not unexpected, for the Tories to try to undermine Scotland’s ability to do so.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh


Get the jab


I  got my first Covid-19 vaccine dose on Saturday June 5.

A huge thanks to all of our hard-working NHS staff involved. I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they are offered an appointment.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands