Minister of State in the Department of Health Jim Daly has said there is a "crisis" in mental health among the Traveller community.

Speaking at a recently-established Oireachtas committee which aims to examine issues affecting the Travelling community, Mr Daly said the crisis is "dreadfully serious" and that he is "acutely aware" that suicide rates are higher among the Traveller community than the general population.

Kate Mitchell of the Mental Health Reform Alliance told the committee that Travellers feel their health needs are being ignored and when their concerns are raised they fall on deaf ears.

Citing a 2017 report by the Community Foundation for Ireland, she said 77% of Travellers had experienced discrimination in the previous year and 43% indicated they encountered discrimination while accessing employment.

"High rates of unemployment, poverty, over-representation in prisons and experiences of unsuitable accommodation among Travellers continue to be reported," she said.

These feelings of social exclusion and discrimination as well as a lack of culturally sensitive mental health services are resulting in the particular mental health needs of the Traveller Community not being met, she told the Committee.

Mr Daly said the budget allocation for HSE mental health services has increase from €711 million in 2012 to almost €1 billion.