Year: 2020 Source: Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. (2020). Published online 15 October 2020. DOI: SIEC No: 20200830

Introduction:Irish Travellers are an indigenous ethnic minority (IEM) with poor health outcomes. Whilst they constitute less than 1% of the Irish population, they account for 10% of national young adult male suicide statistics.
Methods:A rapid review of scientific publications related to mental health and suicide in Irish Travellers was undertaken following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Searches of PubMed, PsycINFO and Google Scholar were performed. Eligibility criteria included: (i) Irish Travellers/Gypsy Travellers; (ii) information on mental health/suicide/self-harm; (iii) psychosocial anthropological perspectives of mental health; (iv) publications in english. Data on studies including design, methods, participants and key findings were extracted using a spreadsheet template.
Results:From 5160 scientific references over the past 20 years, 19 papers made reference to Traveller mental health, and only 5 papers made specific data-based reference to suicide in Travellers. It was only when we qualified Travellers as being ‘Irish Travellers’ in our scientific review did we detect meaningful references to their existence as an IEM, and their health and well-being. Due to sample sizes and heterogeneity in design, results were synthesised narratively.
Discussion:This paper draws together strands from the disciplines of psycho/socio/anthropological perspectives to gain deeper insights into mental health and suicide in Irish Travellers. In a knowledge vacuum, it behoves the scientific community to explain the value of scientific research and rigour to both policymakers as well as Travellers, shifting the existing discourse towards new knowledge and understanding around mental health and suicide in Travellers.