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Psychological Support Service launched for Whistleblowers in Ireland

3 May 2023
Dublin, 3 May 2023
Transparency International (TI) Ireland has launched the country’s first free specialist psychological support service to meet the needs of whistleblowers and their family members.
‘The psychological impact of whistleblowing can be huge resulting in symptoms resembling post- traumatic stress disorder. In some cases, financial ruin or loss of dignity and purpose can leave whistleblowers depressed, anxious, and even suicidal. This may have long term consequences for them, their relationships, family life and career prospects. It is also likely to be costly to employers having to cover the expense of long-term sick leave, or replace a valuable member of staff’, said the initiative’s coordinator, Suzanna Knight.
Strengthened legal protections for whistleblowers raising concerns about work related wrongdoing came into effect on 1 January after the transposition of the EU Whistleblowing Directive, which also highlighted the need to address the psychological distress caused to whistleblowers. At the same time, the new legislation imposes a specific duty on employers not to penalise whistleblowers by referring them for psychiatric evaluation.
‘Whistleblowers who need to access psychological supports as result of their treatment can find themselves in a Catch 22 according to research,’ said John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland, ‘After suffering retaliation because of their disclosures, their mental health and well-being can be harmed, which may then allow unscrupulous employers to discredit them as unreliable because of the trauma they have inflicted upon on them in the first place. At the same time, whistleblowers may have to rely on evidence of harm to their mental health to validate their claims of wrongdoing at court’, Mr Devitt added.
The service will provide confidential, qualified, specialist psychological support to Speak Up Helpline clients during and after they report wrongdoing or suffer penalisation.  Free support will also be available to their family members. 
TI Ireland have designed the Psychological Support Service in collaboration with Dr David Morgan, a British-based Consultant Psychotherapist who has extensive experience of working with whistleblowers in the UK. A panel of qualified psychologists/psychotherapists has been appointed to work under the supervision of Dr Morgan and clients will be able to choose from the list of therapists on the panel. Clients will be able to access five free one-to-one sessions with a qualified therapist and thereafter avail of group therapy where appropriate.
‘Psychological support will be offered to Speak Up Helpline clients on a self-referral basis in strictest confidence and will be subject to client-therapist confidentiality. No third party will be made aware that the client has accessed the service. This means clients can avail of a range supports to manage what can sometimes be extremely difficult experiences, without fearing that their need for support will be used against them,’ added Suzanna Knight.
The initiative is supported with funding from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Further details of the service can be found at
  • TI Ireland has provided advice and support to more than 2,000 clients since it established the Speak Up Helpline in 2011. Its partner, the Transparency Legal Advice Centre has offered free legal advice valued at over €1 million to Irish whistleblowers since 2016.
  • TI Ireland also coordinates the Integrity at Work programme supporting 36 employers including An Garda Síochána, Trócaire and the Department of Education in addressing wrongdoing and promoting safe working environments for whistleblowers.
  • The Speak Up Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm and can be contacted at 1800 844 866. More information, guidance and contact details are available at
  • The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed that whistleblower retaliation should be included under its criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  In developing a Whistleblower Retaliation Checklist, survey data collected by Whistleblowers of America (WoA) has shown that indicators for gaslighting, mobbing, marginalizing, shunning, devaluing, double-binding, career blocking, counter-accusing, and bullying can lead to the symptomatology associated with PTSD.
  • According to research published by Kate Kenny et al., (2019), the psychological stresses borne by whistleblowers can be equivalent to those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After suffering retaliation because of their disclosures, their mental health and well-being is harmed, which then allows wrongdoers to discredit them as unreliable because of the harm that wrongdoers have inflicted upon them in the first place. Simultaneously, they may have to rely on evidence of harm to their mental health to validate their claims of wrongdoing (Kenny et al., 2019).