Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee On Key Issues Affecting The Traveller Community

Traveller Mental Health: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Thomas McCann:

We need a national strategy and we need resources for local groups. We need an ethnic identifier in the mental health services and the health services generally because, as the Senator says, there is a build-up to these situations. We do not have the statistics for self harm in the Traveller community but we need to try to create interventions at earlier stages. There are a lot of good responses but they come from an ethnocentric perspective and are based on the norms of the majority community. ACEs was spoken about earlier on but we need to tailor the interventions to the needs of the community in a culturally sensitive way. This would include counselling and psychotherapy, which I do myself and we established the Traveller Counselling Service for this purpose. The framework sometimes does not fit culturally to the community but we have done this with the Traveller mediation programme and a number of other programmes.

The local groups on the ground need to be resourced because they engage directly with the community. The community is at a further distance from services than is the settled community, and this is not a physical distance. This distance needs to be bridged by active engagement with the community but that does not often happen as they are set up to give information. If Travellers do not use the service they are blamed, even though they clearly must not want the service. The people to do this are the Traveller organisations on the ground and the resources are not there to do it around mental health. If just a very small amount of resources were given to local groups it would support them to do their work.


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