‘Sharing the Vision’: Travellers call for action on their mental health inequalities

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre welcomes the naming of Travellers as a priority group in the Department of Health’s long-awaited policy document ‘Sharing the Vision: A Mental Health Policy for Everyone’ published yesterday (17 June 2020) 

However, it is disappointing that ‘Sharing the Vision’ does not go as far as to include targeted actions aimed at addressing Traveller mental health inequalities. 

Pavee Point has previously highlighted that Travellers’ needs are not  being met in mental health policy and service delivery, despite a suicide rate of 6 times the national average.

“Traveller mental health was at crisis stage before COVID-19 and has been exacerbated by the pressures of this crisis. Access to culturally appropriate services are needed now more than ever” said Patrick Reilly,Mental Health Worker.

Geraldine McDonnell,Mental Health Worker in Pavee Point called for Traveller inclusion and representation on the National Implementation and Monitoring Committee of ‘Sharing the Vision’. “Travellers mental health needs must be recognised if solutions are to be identified that meet our needs – mental health is an issue that touches the lives of most Traveller families”.

In welcoming the approach outlined in ‘Sharing the Vision’ which recognises that education, employment, accommodation and physical health all impact on our mental health as well as the important role of community development programmes in promoting positive mental health, Gráinne Meehan, Mental Health Advocacy Co-ordinator, said “It’s disappointing that resources are not identified for its implementation.  Pavee Point is ready to take up our role in ensuring  ‘Sharing the Vision’ leads to real change in the mental health status of the Traveller community.”

All Ireland Traveller Health Study (2010) Key Findings: Mental Health and Suicide

  • 62.7% of Traveller women and 59.4% of Traveller men reported their mental health was not good for one or more days in the last 30 days, compared to 19.9% of the non-Travellers
  • 56% of Travellers said that poor physical and mental health restricted their normal daily activities, compared to 24% of the non-Travellers
  • Overall Traveller rate suicide is 6 times higher than general population.
  • Suicide is 7 times higher for Traveller men and most common in young Traveller men aged 15-25
  • Suicide accounts for approx. 11% of all Traveller deaths
  • Suicide is 5 times higher for Traveller women