"I feel better in myself
after talking to the counsellor"

Traveller Mental Health

Maintaining mental health can be a challenge for all members of Irish society, particularly in times of such economic hardship.  But when this is combined with the experience of racism, exclusion and discrimination that the Traveller community has experienced, the challenge is greater.

The uptake of mainstream services by the Traveller community is historically low due to the lack of cultural awareness in service providers.  This lack of cultural awareness often leaves Travellers feeling disillusioned and misunderstood.  Shame and fear of both judgement and exposure are further inhibitors to service engagement within the community.

This background has important and far reaching implications for Traveller mental health.  There is a close connection between social and physical stress on the one hand and psychological distress on the other. We lack good information on the level of psychological stress and mental ill-health in the Traveller community, but experts in the area believe that both are high, several used the term that there was ‘a high level of bottled up feelings.’  Case reports by  Exchange House Service for Travellers in Dublin suggest high rates of mental illness that are not being addressed except through prescriptions for tranquilizers. In a project looking at domestic violence, it became apparent that Traveller men had high levels of suppressed anger about their situation, but had no one to talk to in order to seek help.  Figures have also been quoted suggesting that up to 10% of residents of the Central Mental Hospital are Travellers, more than ten times their share of the population would suggest.

While the rate of suicide amongst Traveller women is higher than their settled counterparts, the rate of male Traveller suicide is an alarming 6.6 times higher than that of the settled male population There are many contributory factors to such high suicide rates including social change, the pervasive problem of drug abuse among marginalised Traveller men, economic pressures, accommodation issues, violence and the extreme levels of discrimination faced by this community.   This  level of suicide and self-harm among Travellers is a cause of much grief, loss and emotional pain for the immediate family, the extended family and the wider Traveller community.



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  • Mental Health Training

    The launch of the Mincéir Mental Health training programme took place on 15th December 2021.  View the launch here; view the evaluation report here.

    Course participants can log into the training page here.

    For more information please contact thomas@travellercounselling.ie.

  • Conference 2019

    In April 2019 The Traveller Counselling Service in conjuction with the Traveller Mediation Service and Exchange House Ireland ran a Conference exploring The Impact Of Inter-family Conflict on Traveller Mental Health.

    A conference report will available in the coming weeks

  • Contact Us

    Landline: 01 868 5761
    Mobile: 086 308 1476
    Email: info@travellercounselling.ie

  • Latest News

  • View our Leaflet

    Click here to download or print our leaflet!


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  • Feedback

    “As manager of the organisation, I have seen the impact since the local counselling service was set up some years now. The taboo that Travellers always had in relation to counselling is no longer there.”

    “Our clients have said that they do feel the benefit of using the service for a number of reasons. Before they did not understand counselling or what it was for, and to be able to talk to someone about their problems and issues, whether it be drug related or not, in a "safe and confidential environment" is key.”

    (Jim O’Brien, Manager, Bray Traveller’s Community Development Group Ltd.)