Friendship is the special key to mental health!
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February 2015 GROW in Ireland Newsletter

Friendship in GROW

Step 2 of GROW’s 12 Step Program of recovery is ‘We took our courage in our hands and asked for help’.  Friendship is one of the three keywords in GROW’s logo – the others being Truth and Character.  These two papers below explore how friendship is that special key to good mental health.

Friendship – Notes from 2009 National Weekend

On joining GROW we may have hit rock bottom, and see ourselves as undeserving of friendship. This is where it is crucial the group show their belief in each person and love the person back to health. Such love and acceptance can help kick-start our slow rise from the bottom. However we must learn at some stage to trust the group. The group can carry GROW’s message of love and hope, but they cannot carry the person.

We need to start by having a healthy, accepting relationship with ourselves. If we lack self-esteem, we may believe others are perfect, on a different level to us. This is ‘stinking thinking’. We can beat this bluff and believe that ‘friendship either finds or makes people equal’. Accepting friendship requires learning to value ourselves and what we have to offer. Over time we can learn to enjoy our own company more, rather having a constant undercurrent of loneliness and depression. Developing this more mature attitude will enable us to find the ‘friends for living’ that we all need.

Read full article...

Friendship – Marcella’s Testimony

When I got to GROW meetings I didn’t think: “Oh I’ll make friends here”. I went to seek Mental Health, heal my past and get help in my day-to-day living. Yet in GROW I did find true friends – others who help me, also people I help. I’ll speak out about problems, hurts and past events that I wish to move on from. I’ve shared aspects of my life that I’ve never told family or friends. GROW has been a great help in finding Happiness, partly because the group helps me focus on developing a sense of Gratitude for all that is good in my life.

It’s normal that new problems will cross my path, yet these will never equal those long standing ones as I now have experienced true Friendship – GROWers who will accept me as I am, not what I wish I was. It may not be easy to find HAPPINESS but it is possible by facing reality, being reasonable, being able to ask for help rather than hiding behind false smiles and an untrue heart – like before I found GROW. The key to happiness is friendship. This means being able to both help others and allow others to help me. Getting this balance right is necessary for my journey to maturity and mental health.

Read full article...

GROW Progress Report and Gratitude Journal

I am happy to report the Progress Report/Gratitude Journal will be for sale at €2 in GROW groups from February 2015. I hope you like it. The aim for 2015 is to look at and, more importantly, to try and improve the quality of our groups as there is always room for improvement and change.

As writing is therapeutic and an integral part of what happens in GROW, always keeping in mind where our Program came from, I hope this booklet will get you thinking about writing again. This I feel will help with reporting on progress, develop an interest in attending Leadership meetings and participation in the Leadership Course. It is important that any changes to our Program comes from you, the members, and writing and discussion leads to this.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Rather than doing one heroic deed, the journey to recovery is mainly making thousands of little changes. This booklet is an attempt to help us make these changes. The following are the four aims of the booklet:
  1. Firstly we take tasks at our weekly meetings.
  2. Secondly we use a ‘Progress Report & Gratitude Journal’ to record the times we do our task or any positive change.
  3. Thirdly this process of writing makes us become conscious of changing our thinking/talk/relationships.
  4. Fourthly at our next meeting we share any progress from the last week plus (in Problem Solving) we share other aspects of our lives that we want to change in the coming weeks & months. This keeps the wheels of change turning rather than being stuck. Real, meaningful change is slow and often painful. By becoming conscious of our daily habits we become aware that we can CHOOSE to change those habits and become our truer, happier more positive selves. This is the work of a lifetime and in GROW we believe the only true starting point is right here and now, since we can’t change the past/future.
A word of thanks to the Program Team and a number of people in the Kilkenny region for their support with proof reading etc. - it was much appreciated. Also the regions who supported this project. Thank you all.

Yours in GROW friendship, Christine Fitzgerald, National Program Co-ordinator.

Social Farming - it's SoFAB!

There was an interesting feature on Social Farming in a recent episode of RTE’s Ear to the Ground programme. Alice Mckeon has done some research in this sector and she gives us an overview of what it’s all about…

Social farming is a relatively new concept in the world of agriculture and social service provision, and involves the use of traditional farm services as a form of therapy for those availing of social services. Social farming often takes the form of being provided by farm families, where the inclusion of the client in the family setting provides a sense of comfort and belonging. The range of people availing of the service includes people suffering with physical, mental or learning disabilities, mental health problems, those undergoing treatment for drug/alcohol addictions, people involved in community development or social inclusion projects, and adults and young people on probation. The activities offered are often broken down by season, such as foddering animals and cleaning sheds in the winter, while planting in the garden and helping out with hay and silage making takes place in the summer.

Read full article...


PQASSO Quarterly Update

I am delighted to introduce myself as a new member of the PQASSO team representing GROW members. I joined GROW over three years ago. At a time when I found myself lost as to where to go next, as I had recently retired from a stressful job. The quality of my life and mental health has improved greatly since I have joined GROW. I was delighted to take on the role of group Organiser last year and I enjoyed doing the Leadership course the previous year. It gave me a great understanding of GROW and how it works. I am passionate about GROW and I love the ethos that GROW is run by its own members and it is for that reason I was delighted when I was asked on the PQASSO team. I wish to keep you up to date with what is happening in PQASSO and will give you a up to date report every quarter through the GROW newsletter. You can contact me on  or visit the Disability Federation of Ireland website for more information, but very briefly I have explained below what the aim of PQASSO is. I look forward to hearing from you and next time giving you more details on how we are progressing.

What is PQASSO?
PQASSO is a straight forward, user-friendly quality assurance system intended to help run organisations more effectively and efficiently.  It offers a flexible approach to quality which allows organisations to work at their own pace.  It helps organisations take a systematic look at what they do, identify areas where they are doing well and not so well, and decide exactly where improvements are needed.  It helps organisations plan, budget and allocate the resources for making these improvements over a realistic time period.
I would be delighted to answer any questions, queries or suggestions you may have.  I look forward to this new role and it helps remind me how I am working on step 12, “We carried the GROW message to others in need”

Barbara Smyth, Gorey group, South East Region.

Facebook Free February Anyone?

Diarmuid Lyng is founder of the Facebook Free February movement. It is not an anti-social media movement as such, more an initiative to encourage and challenge us all to develop a healthy relationship with social media and to get us thinking about what impacts social media has on our moods, thinking and relationships.

Many community and voluntary organisations, such as GROW, rely on (free) social media channels to reach out to people in need and to promote education and fundraising events and services. Reverting back to using solely paper newsletters, posters, flyers and newspaper/radio ads would be a step backwards.  However, we would encourage everyone to have a positive relationship with Facebook and social media and use it for our benefit rather than letting it control our behaviour.

If any readers are taking up this challenge, we would love to get some feedback for our next newsletter on how you got on.

News from the North West Region

GROWers and staff in the North West were actively out and about doing great 12th step work and promoting GROW in the run up to Christmas. Information stands were in place for a Farm Safety event on Quinn's Farm, Laghey on 13th November and also for a HSE Mental Health Awareness event in the Millpark Hotel on 10th December. Keep up the good work!

News from the Mid West Region

The year got off to a flying start in Limerick as GROW has joined forces with 25 other charities as part of the 26 Miles for 26 Great Limerick Heroes banner. Brainchild of Denyse O'Brien, the core idea is a combined PR, awareness building and fundraising initiative centred around the Great Limerick Run on 3rd May. Regional Manager, James Quilligan and Regional Chairperson, Rob Stephen, attended the highly successful launch night in the Strand Hotel on 23rd January, hosted by Richard Lynch. GROW has been nominated as Mile #4 and have already assembled a marathon relay team which includes Teri Brandon and a few 10k race participants.  There will be a number of other events in the lead up to the big day, including Coffee Mornings on 26th Feb (a marathon is 26.2 miles) and a Charity Ball on 21st March.

The region will be hosting a Community Education Programme in the Templegate Hotel in Ennis on Monday nights: 16 & 23 Feb and 2 & 9 Mar. Details to be finalised shortly.

Irish Mental Health News and Events

  • Did you listen to the powerful documentary on RTE Radio One which dealt with a family coming to terms with depression?
  • Interested in starting conversations about mental health? See Change are holding volunteer training workshops nationwide during February and March.
  • Speaking of See Change events, Ciara McCullough, who organised the Colour Killaloe Run in aid of GROW last September, is involved in the UV Run for See Change in Killaloe on 25th Apr. Looks like fun!
  • The award winning Patrick's Day film goes on general release in Irish cinemas from 6th February. Here's a synopsis: A young man with mental health issues becomes intimate with a suicidal flight attendant and his obsessive mother enlists a dysfunctional cop to separate them...
  • A few Suicide or Survive Wellness Workshops take place each month in various venues nationwide.
  • Bressie recently said on Twitter: "Week by week we are noticing more and more stories on mental health concerns on our media. This is a very very positive thing". In addition to being one of those behind this increase in media coverage, Bressie is also the man behind the My1000Hours website which focuses on holistic (mental and physical) fitness and he is currently challenging people to sign up for the Irish Independent My1000Hours 5k/10k run in Phoenix Park on 7th March.
  • OCD and Me: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has been in the news lately, featuring on both the Late Late Show and the Saturday Night Show. Tune in to RTE 1 this Mon 2nd Feb @ 9:30pm to catch a documentary on the subject.
  • Ministers Kathleen Lynch and Jan O'Sullivan recently launched a comprehensive document with guidelines for promoting positive mental health in primary schools.
  • #NothingToHide - Cashface February? Have a read of UCD Student Pat McKeown's campaign.
  • Young Social Innovators (YSI) Speak Out Event in Cork on 10th March.
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