"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently" (Maya Angelou).
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June 2015 GROW in Ireland Newsletter

The Courage to Endure

Step 6 of GROW’s 12 Step Program is: ‘We endured until cured’. This piece from the GROW Kilkenny Writer’s Group explores how courage is one of the essential ingredients of Endurance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – President Theodore Roosevelt.

The above quote (which appears in Brene Brown’s fascinating book ‘Daring Greatly’) gives much food for thought, but the part about ‘there is no effort without error and shortcoming’ is very relevant to us in GROW. Each week we take a practical task to change some part of our life – be it great or small. Perhaps we forget that we commit to merely make the effort – we are not promising 100% success, since we cannot know beforehand how well our efforts fare.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici -

Roosevelt’s quote reminds us that it is our constant efforts that builds character. It also hints that success or failure can be random. But if we develop the habit of constantly making an effort, then our numerous successes will more than compensate for our equally numerous failures. Perhaps there is only one true failure in life – the failure to make an effort. If we try but don’t succeed, at least we learn from the experience and can do better next time. But we can never learn anything if we don’t take the risk, don’t make an effort. This brings to mind a quote from Maya Angelou: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently”.

It's OK to ask for Help

May is becoming a busy month for mental health promotion and activism in Ireland.  The Cycle Against Suicide, now in its third year, has grown from strength to strength and Pieta House have managed to shine their Darkness into Light event into many locations across all counties and a number of countries and continents.  On top of that, the Green Ribbon campaign, which ran throughout May, has succeeded in triggering many conversations about mental health.  Whether it is by design or by happy coincidence that all these events take place during the same month, what is certain is that May has become the month where talk about mental health is becoming normalised and that is a very positive thing indeed.

The success of the Cycle Against Suicide was recognised recently when they were deserving winners of the Charity Sport Tourism Event Award at the European Sport Tourism Summit which took place in Thomond Park, Limerick, during May.  The aims of the cycle are two-fold: -
  • Raise Awareness among the 6,000,000 people on the island of Ireland that ‘it’s ok not to feel ok; and that it’s absolutely ok to ask for help’;
  • Direct people in need to where this critical help is available both locally and nationally.
GROW has been involved in the cycle since its inception by providing information stands at many of the schools, colleges and community centres along the route. Photo above shows Cycle Against Suicide ambassador Aoibheann McCaul (Fair City) at the GROW stand.  Generally, at these events, there are not many leaflets given out.  Instead, the presence of the various mental health organisations strengthens the fact that there is help out there for those who may be in distress. In addition, by drawing the various organisations together for these events, the Cycle Against Suicide team have provided an environment where a lot of networking takes place which in turn leads to collaboration and potential for improvements in our mental health services.

Another aspect to the cycle which perhaps is not so obvious is their homestay programme. During the fortnight whilst the cycle is in progress, around 500+ cyclists need to be accommodated each night. This is done by linking up cyclists with people in each community along the route who open up their homes to a couple of cyclists for the night. In this way, thousands of families around the country are involved and many conversations take place in these homes. In this way, the key message of the cycle filters out into communities, homes and families.

To find out more about the Cycle Against Suicide visit their You Tube Channel or listen to Jim Breen’s interview on RTE.

Mental Health Reform News

Mental Health Reform are hosting another of their public consultation meetings on Thursday 4th June in the Carmelite Centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 2 from 2-4:30pm. Numbers are limited, so please phone 01 874 9468 or email to book your place. You can watch their You Tube clip to find out what these meetings are all about. Alternatively, complete their on-line survey before the end of June to have your say.

News from the Midlands Region

GROW Midland Region has been involved in a number of outreach events during the month of May.  In conjunction with the Cycle Against Suicide John Farren, Area Co-ordinator, manned a stand in St. Mel's College, Longford, for the start of the Cycle on Friday 1st May.  Ruairi Powell, Regional Manager, also presented a stand in Athlone Community College over lunch time hours when the Cycle was in the town.  On Saturday 9th May John again had a stand to publicise GROW in Scoil Chriost Ri when the Cycle reached Portlaoise.

John represented the region at the launch of SOSAD (Save Our Sons and Daughters) in Tullamore on 14th May, while Assumpta Lyons, Area Co-ordinator, attended the launch of the MYSELF ( Mullingar Youth Supports Embracing Local Families) booklet in Mullingar on 26th May.

Over the summer the region will host an outing for members while workplace programmes continue.  The next Organisers' & Recorders' meeting will be in Tullamore on Saturday 20th June.

News from the Mid West Region

The Region would like to thank all those who contributed towards the Great Limerick Run fundraising activity which raised over €1,000. Check out footage of the event, including interviews with GROW participants, from ILOVELIMERICK and Irish TV. The ILOVELIMERICK crew also did a wonderful video of Limerick's Pieta House Darkness into Light event on 9th May in which a good number of GROW members and staff participated.

GROW volunteers were on hand to support the Cycle Against Suicide events in Nenagh (where Ciara McCullough shared her story) and in Limerick (where Katie Whelan spoke about her Lisa's Lights campaign). GROW also took a stand for Limerick's flagship Green Ribbon event in the Milk Market on 17th May. This was organised by Amanda Clifford of the Limerick Mental Health Association. There was plenty of music, entertainment, information and snacks on offer for the many people attending.

The Leadership Course has kicked off with about 10 GROWers from the region, mentored by area co-ordinators Mary Purcell and James O'Halloran - this course is also taking place in other regions.  May was wrapped up on Friday 29th with the first of the region's "Last Friday" coffee mornings and an Organisers' and Recorders' meeting. Those in the region should save the date of Saturday 15th August for the Festival of Happiness in Killaloe - more details to follow next month...

News from the North West Region

Six people from the Region's Buncrana group participated in a Green Ribbon Forest walk  for promoting mental health and wellbeing and reducing stigma. This event took place in Ards Forest Park on Sunday 24th May.

News from South East Region

Congratulations to all the women from the Arklow Group who completed the VHI Women's Mini Marathon in Dublin on Bank Holiday Monday, 1st June - all smiles in spite of the weather!

The Tullow Group for people with long tern illness meets in the Forward Step Centre, Tullow (Church grounds) every Tuesday at 11am. The group has members with a diverse range of illness, from heart conditions to diabetes to head injury, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatism or MS, it includes all chronic conditions.The most important part of the meeting involves each person deciding on a priority for the week. This will be unique to them and their current need. The priority could do with managing the illness, e.g. learning and practising new techniques, starting a diet or exercise regime, contacting another organisation or expert, or investigating entitlements. On the other hand it could be to do with enjoying life, not becoming isolated, engouraging the development of talents or simply moving on in a new direction.

The meeting can also be used to discuss how you are feeling. It is amazing how others who are in the same situation can understand and offer support when you find the going tough and seem to be making no progress. The meetings are also educational, studying helpful and relevant literature.

Gorey 2 on the move: GROW are delighted to start working with Tesco on their new premses in Gorey. The meeting will be on at 10 am on Thursday mornings.

Eircode Community Outreach Programme

An Eircode is a smart location code for all Irish addresses. Unlike other countries, where postcodes define clusters or groups of addresses, an Eircode will identify an individual address – rural or urban – and help show exactly where it is located. This means every residential address and business will receive a unique Eircode.
There are numerous benefits to introducing Eircode into Ireland. Not only will it make the delivery of services and goods to households easier, but in the case of a medical emergency, being able to accurately and quickly identify an address can save valuable minutes. 
This July, all residents and businesses will receive a letter notifying them of the Eircode for their address. Addresses will not be changing - an Eircode will simply be added to current addresses. 

The Wheel, working closely with Irish Rural Link, are leading a nationwide effort to reach out to people who are at risk of getting left behind when Eircodes are introduced. Our 23 'Outreach Champions' are leading the drive to reach these people and offer them basic information and reassurance on the change. 
They are getting in touch with volunteers in community and voluntary organisations right around the country, asking them to reach out within their own community to ensure that nobody gets left behind. We are particularly concerned that people reach out to people they know, friends, family and neighbours, who are older, isolated or vulnerable and may not understand or may become confused by what this change means.

A Matter of Life or GAD

Fís is the end of year Creative Media student showcase in DkIT (Dundalk Institute of Technology). It features completely new and original work ranging from film to interactive installations and games, Fís examines a wide range of ideas, technologies & media forms. The exhibition takes place in Carroll's Building on Wed 3rd June (6-9pm) and Thurs 4th June (12-9pm).

One of the showcase projects put together by Kevin McKeever and Paul Smyth is the Metus Project (Metus is Latin for Anxiety). The aim of this project is to create and raise awareness for Generalized Anxiety Disorder through the medium of an interactive narrative and website for people both young and mature. They have created an interactive narrative showing the effects that GAD can have on people. Their narrative will show the story of a fictional character called Amy. The user will experience a journey into Amy’s life and how it turns into a GAD nightmare for her. The project will educate the users on GAD and help them understand the effects it can have on people.

GROW regional manager, Martin Cadden, was interviewed as part of this innovative project. You can follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

Bits and Pieces

Here's a few mental health related articles which we would like to share: -

Embracing Sanity

Former probation officer, Brian McNulty, recently launched his new book "Embracing Sanity - One Man's Footsteps". We missed the launch on 29th May but we did have a great conversation with him at the Green Ribbon Limerick Milk Market event.  Brian recounts his experience as someone who has struggled with bi-polar disorder (manic depression) and who has been through the mill - and come out the other side. This book is well worth a read, especially to those working in the field of mental health, as it gives a lot of insight from the perspective of the sufferer (or the "service user"). You can contact Brian via his Facebook page and the book is available from the Limerick Writer's Centre. Brian is also involved with the Bedford Row Family Project in Limerick (which supports families of prisoners).

Character is spiritual strength and there can be neither maturity nor happiness without it. It consists of moderating desire, deferring pleasure and enduring the hardship involved in confronting evil and accomplishing good in day to day living. This is the price of developing a strong character (GROW Program).
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