November 28, 2023
Renewed calls for National Traveller Mental Health Action Plan – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called on the government to implement a National Action Plan for Traveller Mental Health.

Speaking after last night’s RTÉ’s documentary ‘Patrick: A Young Traveller Lost’, Teachta Ward said:

“Last night RTÉ aired the heart-breaking documentary ‘Patrick: A Young Traveller Lost’.

“The documentary showed the upsetting and deeply personal story of 12-year-old Patrick McDonagh who died by suicide and the broader challenges faced by the travelling community.

“In June 2022, I stood in solidarity with Traveller groups and campaigners who protested outside the Dáil calling for National Action Plan for Traveller Mental Health.

“In March last year, a Joint Oireachtas Report was published on the key issues affecting Traveller communities.

“There were 84 recommendations in the report on how to improve the lives of Travellers in health, employment, education and accommodation. Each one of these affects mental health. 

“90% of Travellers say mental health problems were common in their community.

“11% of Travellers will die by suicide. This is shocking and is over seven times higher than the general population.

“While we can all get lost in statistics, behind each one of those percentages there is a man, woman or child with hopes, dreams and aspirations just like anybody else.

“Last night’s documentary showed how much life and potential young Patrick had and the heart-breaking impact his death has had on his family.

“I supported the campaigners who last year called for a National Action Plan for Traveller Mental Health.

“This plan must have the appropriate resources in place and must be culturally appropriate.

“Mental health problems within the Travelling Community are systemic of wider problems that Travellers face in accessing appropriate accommodation, education and employment opportunities.

“Travellers experience racism and exclusion daily.

“Deficient and substandard living conditions as well as precarious accommodation and homelessness, have a severe detrimental impact on mental health. 

“Lower educational outcomes have a damaging impact on employment opportunities, while chronic unemployment then leads to negative consequences on mental health.

“The 84 recommendations in the report, if implemented, would go a long way towards addressing this.

“I have written to the Minister for Health and asked that a National Traveller Mental Health Action Plan is put in place.”

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