What has been described as "a landmark study" has found that poverty, unemployment and early-childhood experiences of racism in the education sector are some of the key factors that have a long-term impact on the mental health of Traveller men.

The report, "Our Lives Our Voices Our Future", examined how much the social determinants of health - including accommodation, education, employment and poverty - impact on the mental Health of Traveller men.

Previous research has shown that Traveller men are almost seven times more likely to die by suicide than the general population and that life expectancy for Traveller men is 15 years less than in the general population, with unemployment at 80%.

The author of the report, David Friel, who is the first Traveller in the northwest to hold an MA, said "this is a landmark study both in its conduct and findings".

The research was carried by an all-Traveller men's advisory group who conducted in-depth interviews with 12 Traveller men aged 18 to 65 from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, including homelessness, experience of prison and from the LGBTQ community.

The respondents in the study reported feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and depression "arising from the devastating impact of discrimination and exclusion across education, employment, accommodation and health, often addressing these issues through self-medication with alcohol and other substances".

Mr Friel, who is currently a PhD candidate at the Atlantic Technological University Sligo, said that from this research, he would like to see "a commitment at local, regional and national levels to create conditions for Traveller men to be free from the social, structural, cultural and economic determinants that negatively impact their mental health".

The report, which was launched by the Donegal Travellers Project in Letterkenny today, highlighted a number of issues, including an additional challenge for Traveller men of overcoming the stigma and shame regarding mental health within the Traveller community, in that men are typically expected to be strong and emotionless.

This stigma is compounded for men who are gay, the report found.

The research indicates that "Traveller men's early childhood experiences of racism, segregation and low expectations in the school setting are internalised, having a deep-rooted and long-term impact on their mental health".

Early school experiences manifested as "internalised oppression," which resulted in "men feeling inadequate, powerless, isolated and, in some cases, denying their identity to prevent hostility or maltreatment".

The report makes a number of recommendations, including the setting-up of an interagency working group on traveller accommodation and mental health; training for educators in the areas of anti-racism, anti-discrimination and cultural competence and the appointment of an HSE-funded peer Traveller mental health worker in Donegal.