Some sound advice on Step 4 - about using our talents; updates on parades & book launches in March and a look at what's happening in the world of mental health during April and May.
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Step 4 and Art Therapy

This month, in looking at Step 4 of the GROW Program (We acknowledged our gifts and our strengths), Ann Waters writes how Art Therapy has helped her...

I cannot find my true self by looking in the mirror to check my wrinkles and sags. Still less can I find myself through churning over old slights and past failures, by checking the condition of my feelings and wondering what people think of me. Do they look down at me? Do I feel angry, hurt, depressed? Why am I not happy?

The old saying, that one has to lose oneself to find it, is quite true. I am most truly myself when I am engaged in people, things or ideas outside of myself. I am happiest when I find the world more interesting than ME. I am happiest when I am not even thinking about happiness. Painting is one of the ways I find this unlooked for happiness.  Read Ann's Full Article...

The GROW in Ireland Newsletter Team

Mental Health News and Updates

Community Education / Gatekeeper Update

The Southern Region hosted a very successful "Understanding and Minding your Mental Health" course during March in the Silversprings Hotel, Cork. Kathy Sinnott, renowed campaigner and former MEP, spoke at the opening night. Professor Ella Arensman & Dr. Eve Griffin from the NSRF delivered a presentation on self harm which is available on-line. The NSRF are holding an Information Evening on Mon 14th Apr from 7.30pm to 9.30pm in the River Lee Hotel, Western Road, Cork.

Upcoming Community Education courses are as follows: -
  • Young Adult 10 Week Programme (in progress). Gorey Youth Needs, St. Michael’s Road, Mary Ward Lane, Gorey. Tuesdays, 4pm. Contact  Ellen 087-2291718.
  • Ballylynan Gatekeepers’ Course (started 25th Mar). Tuesdays till 22nd Apr at 7:30pm, St. Anne's Community Hall, Ballylynan, Co Laois. Contact John 086-8033126.
  • Sligo Community Education Programme. Tues 8th Apr 2014 to Tues 29th Apr at 8:30pm. The Pastoral Centre, Ballymote, Sligo. Contact Noeleen 086-851-6939.
  • Lanesboro Gatekeepers’ Course. Five Monday evenings starting 12th May at 7:30pm. Lanesboro Co-op Hall, Lanesboro, Co. Longford. Contact John 086-8033126.
Above courses are free, thanks to HSE funding, but booking is essential.


Galway Book Launch

Another day. Another book launch. The most recent regional book launch of GROW’s new book of stories took place in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Galway on Thursday 20th March. The book, entitled Soul Survivors Vol 3: Stories of Recovery: from Despair to Hope, was launched by well known local poet & playwright Rita-Ann Higgins with guest speaker Dr.Mike Watts (former GROW Program Co-ordinator).

The event was a great success with a nice mixture of attendees and guest speakers. In a way everything associated with the launch was like a micro-definition of what GROW is all about. The idea of having many regional community-based book launches really defines the place that GROW occupies in the spectrum of mental health organisations. GROW, although a national body, is in essence a community based organisation with a strong emphasis on providing groups in all community settings. Each GROW region has a strong sense of its own autonomy, so it’s only fitting that the book launches reflect that reality.

Not only that, the event took place in Charlie Byrnes bookshop, recently voted Ireland’s No.1 independent local bookstore in partnership with Irelands’ No.1 independent community based mental health organisation. (coincidence – surely not!!). Read Full Article,

Read Rita-Ann's Full speech or Listen to Paul Clabby on Galway Bay FM (17 mins in).

A problem well stated is a problem half solved – Charles Kettering, Engineer.

Updates from Dungarvan

Gertrude Howley, South East Region chairperson, took to the streets of Dungarvan with many others in the St Patrick's Day Parade, as part of a common Mental Health float co-ordinated by Councillor Liam Brazil. The float scooped the 2nd prize of €600 which went to Suicide Prevention in Dungarvan. Well done to all those involved for this excellent de-stigmatizing 12th step display and especially to Sr. Gertrude who had to get the long banner pole into town the night before as it was too long for the car! Rumour has it Gertrude made use of Step 2We took our courage in our hands and asked for help!

On Sat 5th Apr, there is Karaoke with Karen in Dillon's Bar, starting at 8:30pm. Tickets €5 in aid of GROW. Plenty of spot prizes on the night. Promises to be a great night out based on last year's event. Karen is also organising a fashion show, date to be confirmed...

The West Waterford Festival of Food takes place in Dungarvan from Fri 10th to Sun 13th Apr. As part of this, GROW is teaming up with the St. Mary's Church of Ireland for an exhibition of antique wedding dresses along with tea and home baked goodies in the Charity Vintage Tea Rooms. The events culminate with a Sunday afternoon concert by The Bugle Babes in St Mary's Church. All proceeds will be split between GROW and the Church Repair Fund.

On 1st & 2nd May, GROW will be out and about selling ribbons in Dungarvan.

Limerick Milk Market Event

Limerick Mental Health Association, part of Mental Health Ireland, is organising an innovative mental health awareness event scheduled for Limerick's famous Milk Market on Sun 18th May. GROW and many other organisations will be involved.  Full details next month.

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow – Swedish proverb.

Bon Voyage to Derek Mahon

Irish mountaineer, Derek Mahon, will shortly be heading off to Kathmandu to commence a month long assault on the world's tallest mountain, Mt. Everest. Derek is a senior manager with Danske Bank and he has teamed up with GROW to highlight the importance of good mental health, and to help raise funds. The challenge will certainly test Derek's physical and mental health abilities to the limit.

To find out more, visit the GROW or Danske Bank websites. As a token of support for this terrific effort, you can also text the word "GROW" to 50300 to donate €2 to the cause.

Holy Mary in Wexford

South Eastern Regional Team member, Jayne O'Sullivan, is currently flat out directing Eoin Colfer’s one-act play Holy Mary, which looks at the world from an eight year old’s imaginative and witty point of view as she prepares for her first Holy Communion. Central to the script is Holy Mary O’Leary (Mary O’Connor), whose arch nemesis Majella (Anne Crosbie) taunts her with mean rhymes, leaving the eight-year-old utterly frustrated. As Mary tells us her story, we see all the people in her life through her eight year old eyes. Heart rending and hilarious, Mary shows the concerns of a child of eight are as real as the concerns of the adults in her life.

World renowned for his Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer has kindly given permission to Jayne O’Sullivan to produce the play on behalf of GROW in Ireland. Gerrie North proprietor Fusion Café, 109, North Main Street, Wexford, will present this one-act play on 1st, 2nd and 3rd May. Doors open @ 8pm. Tickets priced €10 and available to buy in Fusion Café during the day and prior to performance on the night.

It promises to be a great start to the Green Ribbon month of May and with a bit of luck, we might persuade them to tour some other parts of the country...

As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey – Thomas Edison.

Getting the Balance Right

Gerry from Portumna writes...Getting the Balance right is part and parcel of GROW. My role as a GROW member is one of Recorder. And in that capacity, along with our Organiser Mary, I am responsible for getting the balance right.

I have been attending GROW now for a long number of years. It involves attending the meetings in Portumna regularly week after week, but not only that. As members we have attended the Western Regional weekend in Esker and the National weekend in Athlone, as well as Leaders Meetings and Organiser & Recorder Meetings in Galway. We also do 12th step work and attend events with other GROW groups. This helps to balance things out and it puts into perspective the actual meaning of getting it right.

At GROW meetings week after week, the members gather and discuss tasks from the previous week. We also talk about the tasks for the week ahead, which we are all responsible for carrying out. All this is my definition of what getting the balance right means.

To be a fulfilled GROWer that is what we are supposed to do. Getting the balance right is part and parcel of GROW. For me as a Recorder, and Mary as an Organiser, we do this as a team and try to achieve getting a balance as much as we can.

Read more from Writers Corner...

Readings in GROW Meetings

At a GROW meeting, during the "Middle Routine", some time is always devoted to a selected general mental health reading, followed by a short discussion. This encourages group members to think in a context which is wider than their own mental health problems and it also helps people to concentrate, think, understand and debate - which are essential life skills.

As many readings are sourced (photocopied) from GROW literature, we would encourage GROWers to purchase our Soul Survivor and Ann Waters books. We find that these are more durable than handouts and there is also a cost saving to the organisation.

HSE Listening Meetings

Paddy McGowan, interim Head of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement on the HSE National Mental Health Management Team, has been touring the country during February and March gathering views on our Mental Health Service. The last of these meetings take place this Mon 31st March in the West Court Hotel, Drogheda (2pm) and the The Farnham Arms Hotel, Cavan (7:30pm).

Paddy has a long and distinguished history as a campaigner on mental health issues. He has personal experience of the mental health services, both as a service user and as a carer. He has also been involved in advocacy around issues both nationally and internationally for many years. We look forward to seeing the final report.

Meanwhile, the HSE Mental Health Division has recently released their 2014 Operational Plan. It is a comprehensive document and recommended reading for those involved in provision of mental health services in Ireland.

Mental Health Reform Public Meetings

Mental Health Reform wants to hear from those with an interest in mental health about their experience of getting mental health support. They will then share their perspective on what a good quality mental health service should offer, and give policy feedback to the government.

To this end, four public meetings have been scheduled. Email or phone 01 874 9468 to book your free place.
  • Cork - 9th April 2014, 2.00-4.30 pm: Council Chambers, City Hall, Anglesea St, Cork.
  • Dublin - 17th April 2014, 2.00-4.30 pm: Carmichael Centre, North Brunswick St, Dublin 7.
  • Donegal - 7th May 2014, 2.00-4.30 pm: Arena 7 Entertainment Complex, Ballyraine Retail Park, Letterkenny, Co.Donegal.
  • Athlone - 14th May 2014, 2.00-4.30 pm: venue to be confirmed.
For more details and latest updates, please visit MHR website.

"The expert should be on tap, not on top."

Living Word - Mike Watts

One of the commonest features of mental illness is isolation. In depression there is an unnatural pull to get away from people and to spend more time alone. Even when you are manic, you manage to keep people away, by being so hyped up yourself that others only exist as an extension of your own elated feelings. When you are less than able to face life, because of depression or fear or pressing worries, or because of tragedy or abuse, there is often a genuine turning to God. Sometimes people justify their isolation by saying they need time to pray.

Read Full Article and other Living Word pieces by Mike...

Reach: Mental Health Campaign

UL Psychology and Literacy Society are teaming up in an innovative way to raise awareness about mental health issues. The Psychology Society provides information on various topics weekly (e.g. altruism, suicide) and, during the Literacy Society’s creative writing night, short performances will be created based on topics.

These pieces will be sent to drama groups across the country and further afield in the hopes of bringing them to life through public performance. If you want a particular topic covered or think there’s a misconception that needs to be addressed they would love to hear from you. Pieces to be used in the project are also welcome e.g. poetry, speeches, short stories.

Contact: or

Upcoming Events of Interest...

St. Patrick's Mental Health Services are hosting a free one day symposium on Tues 8th AprilMeasuring Quality in Mental Health Care; The Next Steps? Registration closes in a few days and it is sure to fill up fast as there is a packed and interesting agenda.

The inspirational Joanne O'Riordan documentary No Limbs No Limits is due for release in cinemas nationwide on Fri 11th April. We can think of no better way to spend a few hours over the Easter Holidays.

The Cycle Against Suicide event takes place around the country, starting in Dublin (RTE) on Mon 28th Apr and finishing back in Phoenix Park on Sun 11th May. There is still time to register and as the cycle passes through many towns where there are active GROW groups, we hope to support the CAS team in any way possible. The main objective of the Cycle is to raise awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional – Anonymous.

Fundraising Updates

It is fantastic that the charity sector is recovering from the bad press at the start of the year. The #NOMAKEUPSELFIE phenomenon has to date raised over €1 million for the Irish Cancer Society and cancer, like mental illness, impacts almost every family in the land in some way or another. The simplicity of the LikeCharity text donation mechanism makes it both easy and affordable for people to donate to their chosen charities on their own terms.  All those €2/4 donations quickly add up if a campaign goes viral.

GROW in Ireland has been using LikeCharity for some time, but our success has been more modest!  We'd like to remind everyone that you can donate €2 to GROW by texting the word "GROW" to 50300. Although GROW meetings are free to attend, members do get the opportunity to make a voluntary contribution at the end of the meeting. Normally this is around €2/3 - enough to cover tea/coffee and room hire. So this text service makes it easy for GROWers to contribute voluntarily and anonymously later if they have no change to hand when the "secret bag" is passed around the meeting.

In Limerick, there is a team of 4 (Kenn, David, Murray & Rob) competing in the Great Limerick Run Marathon Relay event on 4th May. And there are a few others, like Marc, doing the 6 mile event. To sponsor the lads on-line, please use the iDonate GROW GLR 2014 page. They will be wearing the new GROW running tops.

There is still, almost, time for the ladies to register for the Flora Women's Mini Marathon on 2nd June in support of GROW. Contact us if you need help setting up a sponsorship page on iDonate and to get your running tops.

A reminder that the Fundraising Ireland annual conference takes place in Dublin on 11th April. An innovative "Charity Hack" is taking place the day before, on 10th April. Some lucky charities are set to benefit from some good advice and tips.

Final Word

Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed this edition of our newsletter. If you have comments, feedback, suggestions or content for future articles, let us know. Please forward the newsletter to those friends, family and colleagues who may benefit.

And remember, the Green Ribbon month of May is fast approaching so make sure you get your ribbons in good time!
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