'Our children are falling through the cracks': Working group launches new animations on Traveller mental health

“There are so many mental health difficulties in the community.”
'Our children are falling through the cracks': Working group launches new animations on Traveller mental health

Eileen Burke, Traveller Community Health Worker, Traveller Visibility Group; Niamh Murphy, Primary Health Care Coordinator, West Cork Travellers Centre; Nora Cash, Traveller Community Health Worker, Traveller Visibility Group; Helen O'Sullivan, Traveller Community Mental Health Worker, Healthy Minds, HSE Cork/ Kerry Community Healthcare with her daughter Rena, and Tehmina Kazi, Traveller Health Co-Ordinator, Traveller Visibility Group, pictured in Fitzgerald's Park in Cork. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

ANIMATIONS have been launched in Cork to help support and inform issues with Traveller families’ mental health. The animations were launched yesterday, at an event organised by the Cork/Kerry Traveller Youth Mental Health working group.

The two animations will be used to help support Traveller families in accessing services. Both animations saw mothers discuss the journeys they undertook with their sons through primary and secondary school.

Nora Cash, who is a Traveller Community Health Worker with the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) Cork, explained why the working group is needed.

“There are so many mental health difficulties in the Traveller community,” she said. “A system that understands and appreciates this is required. Inroads are being made which is really reassuring, but we need more proactive services on the ground dedicated to Travellers to help us support our community, young and old, with mental health. 

"Traveller friendly ways are key.”

Eileen Burke from TVG Cork echoed Ms Cash’s concerns.

“Our Traveller children are falling through the cracks,” she said. 

“It is vitally important that all children get intervention at the earliest of stages before they become young adults.”

In one animation, a mother describes how the primary school years were difficult as her son’s restless and disruptive behaviour in class spiralled. The woman said:

“I remember how in sixth class he was given a golden achievement award for doing well on a surfboard on an end of school trip. 

"This was the first award he ever received in school. 

"I think he was delighted on the inside but by then he had developed a hard skin for himself and he threw his award in the bin.”

The animations offer parents advice on how to engage with various service providers while raising awareness around the challenges experienced by travellers.

Yesterday also saw the launch of the “Stages of Intervention for Young People” resource — a summary document designed by and for Traveller projects.

The idea behind these resources is to support and empower travellers to access help for their children, as they navigate mental health difficulties.

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