Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group launched their mental health leaflet on the 5th March 2019 in the Draoicht Theatre, Blanchardstown from 6pm. The leaflet provides practical tips for looking after your mental health as well as providing useful contact numbers for local services. The play Magpies on the Pylon written and directed by Traveller actor Michael Collins was performed as part of the launch.
The play looks at the issue of suicide in the Traveller community and focuses on the impact on the extended family and on the site where they live. It looks at the exclusion faced by members of the Traveller community and the way they view services and supports on offer.
The event was well attended, and the audience engaged fully in the Q&A session after the play. Michael Collins, actor and director, Catherine Joyce, BTDG Manager and Lorna Nolan, BTDG Board member and Director of Suicide Awareness Dublin 15 all spoke on the panel which was chaired by BTDG Chairperson Freda Hughes. Inputs focused on the changes brought to the community through decades of forced assimilation policies and laws which hampered the old the trades and nomadic way of life and the impact that this has had on mental health.
BTDG Chairperson Freda Hughes said; “No matter who we are or of what background we come from we are all shaped by the cultural context in which we grow up in. It shapes how we understand and make sense of the world around us. It shapes how we see ourselves and how we see others. It shapes our understanding of our health and of our mental health and wellbeing. People who are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and socially excluded groups will have different perceptions of what good health means and what is meant by good mental health.”
Ms. Hughes continued; “BTDG feel that it is important then to take the cultural context that people are coming from into account when providing services in order to fully understand the person and the context in which the problem has arisen or is being experienced. Services which have been developed and do not develop cultural inclusive practices and policies are providing a service which is based on the needs of the majority community. It has been shown that one size does not fit all, and that this perspective unknowingly excludes people from marginalised groups.”