The appointment of a suicide prevention minister is not a solution to our mental health problems in the UK

I thank The Independent for shedding light on mental health ailments on World Mental Health Day. However, I think the appointment of a minister for suicide and mental health in the UK is a laughable matter.

It is true that mental health is a global epidemic with appalling impact on individuals, families, communities and economies and that mental health surpasses in significance other pressing global health crises such as Ebola, Zika and communicable and non-communicable disorders and that there can be no health without mental health.

We all knew for a long time that solutions should be comprehensive and integrated that transcend boundaries well beyond the health sector to encompass other psychosocial, environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, societal, education, contextual, sexual, defence, gender and security realms. Despite that, we still grapple with mental health and its consequences. It seems cynical that a minister appointed today will turn all ailments on their heads and solve our mental health predicament once and for all.

Munjed Farid al Qutob
London NW2

We should be ashamed of our home secretary’s attitude towards the death penalty

Refusing to condone the barbarity of capital punishment was one of the few civilised principles this Tory government had, until recently, managed to uphold.

Now the home secretary has refused to make passing information about Alexandra Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh to the USA conditional on a guarantee that they wouldn’t be executed.

Our home secretary was apparently worried that he might make senior members of Trump’s administration cross. So much for taking back sovereignty.

D Maughan Brown

The best thing we can do for the environment is eat a plant-based diet

Will Gore talks about making small changes in our lives to protect the planet. One change which would really help is to adopt a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet.  

One of the biggest causes of global warming are the gasses released by animals raised for meat. Our planet is simply too small to sustain more than 80 billion animals raised for meat every year.

To meet the insatiable demand for cereals colossal amounts of chemicals are used which is destroying fertile land both in developed countries and poorer ones which are exporting crops to feed animals rather than feeding their citizens.

A huge amount of fresh water resources are being used up in the raising of these animals and the waste produced by them is polluting our rivers and oceans and creating dead zones where all life forms cease to exist.

Huge amount of forests including the Amazon have been cleared to meet the demand for beef in the US. Absence of forests means more floods and other forms of extreme climate occurrences.

A shift away from a meat-based diet to a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet is paramount if we are to heal the planet and avoid a calamity. This is something every individual can do and become the change they want in the world.

Nitin Mehta

Clearly the government cannot be trusted with education

It is ironic that it should be the Department for Education that is rebuked for abuse of statistics. We all know that the government is economical with the truth and deceives us at every opportunity – now we see that in its hands “education” is not synonymous with clarity and rigour of thought, but has been made a vehicle for deception and propaganda.

These are indeed impoverished times and nothing is safe from their half-truths. Where have we gone wrong in allowing so many second-rate, opportunistic and incompetent people to run our affairs?

Dennis Leachman

Remembering Dudley Sutton

Having read your obituary on Dudley Sutton, I’m disappointed there was no mention of his 1962 film The Boys, about a group of bored teenagers who committed a robbery in which a night watchman is killed. A topical film at the time, as the abolition of the death penalty was being debated. Theme music was by the Shadows.

David Blackburn

As trade unionists, we support the rights of anti-fracking protestors

As trade unionists, we the undersigned stand in solidarity with the four non-violent anti-fracking activists who have been convicted of “causing a public nuisance”, three of whom are now serving custodial sentences. We strongly condemn this judgement and the dangerous precedent it sets for the right to protest and take non-violent direct action against threats to the climate and the environment.

These are by far the longest prison sentences imposed on activists defending the environment since those jailed for the [Kinder Scout] Mass Trespass in 1932. It can only be seen as politically motivated in support of a government that has shown it is prepared to ride roughshod over the democratic rights of citizens to achieve an end for which it has no popular support.

This is a clear example of the state acting in the interests of big business in the face of opposition to fracking by the community at Preston New Road, and across the UK more widely. It is important to recall the concerns raised by the UN special rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly in his report in 2016 regarding the “collusion between law enforcement authorities and private companies” in relation to fracking protests.

At the TUC Congress in 2018, the trade union movement called for a moratorium on fracking in England which has already been stopped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Many of us believe it should be banned in full. There is no safe fracking. It is not safe for the environment, water supplies, citizens or workers, or in addressing climate change concerns.

Trade unionists have long seen their legitimate rights oppressed with the use of force, and are proud to support of our sisters and brothers taking a stand against injustice. The treatment of striking miners at the so-called “Battle of Orgreave” remains a potent symbol of the underhand tactics of the state against the working class for which justice is still being sought over thirty years later.

We need investment in a publicly owned and democratically controlled energy system, which can oversee the transition to renewable energy. A transition that is just by providing social protections for workers, and creates unionised sustainable jobs across all sectors as we develop a new zero carbon economy.

We stand in solidarity with the imprisoned anti-fracking activists and support the call for a judicial review of this absurdly harsh sentence, and an inquiry into the wider attacks on the right to protest and freedom of assembly.

Manuel Cortes – general secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA)
Kevin Courtney – joint general secretary, National Education Union (NEU)

Ronnie Draper – general secretary, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)

Mark Serwotka –  general secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)

Tony Kearns – senior deputy general secretary, Communication Workers Union (CWU)

And many more. See full list here

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