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Daily experiences of discrimination and racism among those in the Traveller community are having big impacts on mental health, according to a new review commissioned by the Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project, Clondalkin Travellers Development Group and the Tallaght Travellers Community Development Project.

It was found that 68 per cent of Travellers have lost a family member, friend or loved one to suicide, news source RTE reports, with survey respondents noting that this fact can drive both addiction and depression, as well as having a contagion effect.

In all, nine recommendations were included in the report, including prioritising Traveller cultural awareness training for professionals providing suicide prevention services. Additionally, it was recommended that mental health services be improved and an ethnic identifier introduced.

Senator Eileen Flynn launched the publication of the report, saying that the community is now facing a “mental health crisis”. She went on to add: “Traveller men are seven times more likely to die by suicide and Traveller women are six times more likely.

“This is a crisis and it needs to be treated as a crisis. We need to know how many Travellers are going through our mental health services and identify what supports they need. What we are seeing is systematic racism and hatred.”

Shay L’Estrange from the Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project made further comments, saying that there are various quotes included in the research from people who are now afraid to send their children to school in case they experience racism in the classroom. This is having a big impact on both young people and the wider community.


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