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How do Traveller women talk about their mental health?

How do Traveller women talk about their mental health?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lorraine McCashin. Originally submitted for Applied Social Studies in Social Care at None, with lecturer Lisa Scott in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lorraine McCashin. Originally submitted for Applied Social Studies in Social Care at None, with lecturer Lisa Scott in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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How do Traveller women talkabout their mental health?
The following qualitative research project was carried out with a small focus group toexamine, through Traveller women’s narrative discourse, the role of gender on mental healthfor women in a minority group. The research was conducted with a thorough examination bythe researcher of previous and relevant studies in this area.
The objective of this research project is to examine the level of understanding of women in aminority group on mental health issues and the discourse they used. This research projectfocused on the factors that can affect an individual’s mental health with an emphasis of thefactors that affect women from an ethnic minority group in Ireland in particular.
A qualitative approach was used for this research paper. It was conducted using semi-structured, open-ended questions in a focus group setting. The data was analysed usingFramework Analysis. Qualitative research methods were chosen for this project as it allowsindividuals from marginalised groups to have a voice. A focus group was deemed the mostappropriate approach to this research. Focus groups are interactive, dynamic and allow the participants to feel respected which was essential to the underpinning feminist stance of thisresearch project. Eighteen women from the Travelling community, who are training to beCommunity Health Advocates, participated in the focus group. The participants were asked beforehand if they wanted to participate by an independent gate-keeper. The focus group began with the aims of the research being read aloud. Each participant was asked to sign aconsent form to allow quotes to be used in the research but no participant would be identified.The participants were advised they could withdraw their consent at any time without anyrepercussions.
The results from this study found that Traveller women face discrimination on three fronts: asTravellers, as women and as Traveller women. A feeling of being discriminated against wasfound to be prevalent for these participants. It was noted that women in general are twice aslikely to suffer from some mental health issues such as depression, which has beencontributed to the unequal position women hold in society in terms of responsibilities. The participants of this study showed awareness of the psychosocial and environmental issues thatcan negatively affect their mental health. It was evident from the findings in these results thatthere is general lack of trust between the participants and health professionals. The resultsalso showed the supports the participants had from their community and their families, whichare not always appreciated by those outside of the Travelling community.
In conclusion this study found that Traveller women are very aware of the factors that cannegatively impact on their mental health. They are aware of the unequal position they hold intheir community; they have the lion’s share of the domestic duties and all the responsibilitiesthat go with this. Although this can cause feelings of depression, it is also a source of supportfor them. The lack of trust for health professionals that is found in this study can be ahindrance for seeking help and support. An emphasis on more Traveller friendly policieswould go some way to minimising the factors that cause mental health distress in thecommunity.Word Count = 544

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