Wexford Local Development’s Traveller Community Health Programme, in partnership with the Health Service Executive, are organising a Mental Health Conference for Wexford Travellers on Wednesday next, January, 31st, 2018 in the Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford. This is an evening event, from 7pm to 10pm, with inputs from both statutory and community mental health service providers in the area.

The title of the conference is Get on Board: Steering the Reins to Change which aims to raise awareness of Mental Health and complimentary services which may improve access and uptake of these services in Wexford by the Traveller Community. According to the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study in 2010, suicide accounts for 11% of all Traveller deaths and compared to the settled population, 7 times more Traveller males die by suicide.  Due to the impact on the wider family, the issue is oftentimes difficult to discuss.

The last census in 2016 recorded 1,508 Travellers living in the county, which at 1% is the 6th highest Traveller percentage population in the state. Addressing the needs of this relatively high population, Wexford Local Development, in partnership with the HSE’s Social Inclusion Office and South East Traveller Health Unit, provides a range of services at community level, including two Primary Health Care Projects which employ a total of nine part-time Traveller Community Health Workers who are themselves Travellers. These peer workers are uniquely placed to impact upon achieving better health outcomes for the community and each year deliver programmes in the key areas of Diabetes awareness; Cardiovascular health and mental health, engaging with service providers and enabling effective Traveller participation. In 2017 as part of a chronic conditions heart health programme, the Traveller Community Health workers led 33 Traveller women to complete the Women’s Mini Marathon, raising funds for Crumlin Children’s Hospital in the process.

The focus of the Traveller Health Programme in the early part of this year is firmly on mental health and well-being, with additional funds made available from the HSE to highlight the issue, promote awareness and increase uptake of supports. Part of the conference will be given over to highlighting the mental health services that are available in Wexford, including community based services.  The conference will also be showcasing the work being done in the county by Travellers themselves. Speakers on the night will include Mary Byrne, Traveller Mental Health Liaison Nurse with the HSE in the South East, who will talk about Positive Mental Health. Self-care and mindfulness will be covered by the voluntary service Suicide or Survive. Paul Delaney who co-ordinates Wexford Local Development’s Cornmarket Project will speak about Dual Diagnosis, where mental health issues co-exist with substance misuse. Tipperary Rural Travellers Project will be joining the Wexford Travellers to talk about their Drive for Hope and Change project, which has had a positive impact on the mental health of Traveller Men in Tipperary. Wexford Mental Health Services will also be present on the night to encourage uptake of their services, as will numerous other agencies and community sector organisations offering supports to the Traveller community.

There is no charge for attending this event, however pre-booking by phoning Laura or Esther, on 053 91 55864 is advised.

Further information on Wexford Local Development’s services for Travellers