Step 4 - We acknowledged our gifts and our strengths.
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April 2015 GROW in Ireland Newsletter

We made Personal Inventory and Accepted Ourselves

Step 4 of GROW’s 12 Step Program is: ‘We acknowledged our gifts and our strengths’. This paper, by Brigid from GROW’s South East Region, reminds us how important it is to acknowledge our gifts. [Image courtesy of Stuart Miles]

When I first considered this step, I thought making personal inventory was looking at my faults and mistakes. Like lots of GROWers, I didn’t have trouble owning them and there were people in my life at the time who weren’t shy about pointing them out to me. Another grower kindly took me aside one day and said that making personal inventory was also about looking at our talents and strengths.

I thought about my talents and it took me back to when I was a little girl making my first communion. We were all lined up in the church singing hymns. The two teachers in charge were looking for someone to sing solo and were walking up and down the aisles listening to everyone. They stopped at me and one said, ‘Brigid has a nice voice, let’s hear her’. Everything went very quiet and I started to sing. Hearing my own voice, I faltered. Everyone was looking. My voice shook. It didn’t sound like it did when I sang at home – in fact you wouldn’t have heard me behind a paper bag. The teachers moved on to the next girl and picked her.

For years after, even as an adult, I wanted them to give me another chance. I really wanted to be a brilliant singer – I envied those who were. Alas, The Point Depot/3 Arena was not for me. So I never considered myself to be a ‘talented’ person.

However the gifts we want are often not the ones we get and sometimes it takes someone else to tell us what they are. I discovered I had a different talent at a very sad and lonely time in my life. There were troubles in my immediate family and my extended family. My self-esteem was at an all time low – I felt I was pretty useless at everything. In a busy work environment, I was looking after a very elderly and sick lady. Her poor body was contorted badly from arthritis and she needed assistance with all activities of daily living. She rarely spoke. Her voice was quite weak. This particular morning I helped her out of bed, working slowly and carefully because she looked so sore. She then looked directly at me and said, ‘You are very gentle’.

Something shifted in my heart at that moment. I realised I was more than the sum of my troubles – a person outside of them and that I had a gift. That lady, who was so restricted in so many ways due to her illness, changed my life forever by improving my opinion of myself. Now there is no contest, but if there was and if I had a choice between being a brilliant singer or being very gentle, I know which I would choose.

Tips for Dealing with a Suicidal Person

Suicide is not so much a choice to die, as it is a way of solving the problem of emotional pain when every other alternative appears to have failed and no other option seems available. There is no way to predict what combination of life circumstances might lead a person to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. Everyone has a potential breaking point.

Hearing that one of our fellow members feels suicidal can be a most distressing and frightening scenario for any caring, well-meaning family including our GROW ‘family’. We want to say the ‘right thing’ although we may not know what the ‘right thing’ is at that time. We don’t want to say the ‘wrong thing’ for fear of making matter worse. We can feel, momentarily at least as helpless and frightened as the person seeking help. What do we do? What can we do? Find out more...

GROW Community Education Programmes

Caroline Crotty, John Lonergan and Mary Purcell at the recent Ennis Community Education programme. Photo courtesy of Clare People.

There are a number of FREE four week Community Community Education "Understanding and Minding your Mental Health with GROW" courses commencing during April.  Full details are also available on our website.

The Yard, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal. Contact Maria on 086-7702860. Takes place on Tuesday mornings @ 11:00am.
  1. 14th April - Resilience by Bill Vaughan, Development Officer, Mental Health Ireland.
  2. 21st April - Recovery Approach to Emotional Wellness by Charlene Haughey, Clinical Psychologist, HSE.
  3. 28th April - Confidence Building and Assertiveness by Kathy O’Connor, Life Coach Gestalt Practitioner.
  4. 5th May - An Introduction to Mindfulness by Maria Whelan, GROW Co-ordinator.
The Family Resource Centre, Donegal Town. Contact Marian on 086-7856912. Takes place on Monday evenings @ 7:30pm.
  1. 13th April - “Resilience” by Bill Vaughan, Development Officer, Mental Health Ireland.
  2. 20th April - Lisa McNulty, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, HSE.
  3. 27th April - “Confidence Building and Assertiveness” by Kathy O’Connor, Life Coach / Gestalt Practitioner.
  4. 11th May - “An Introduction to Mindfulness / Information about GROW support groups in the North West by Maria Whelan and Marian Maguire, GROW North West Co-ordinators.
Portarlington Community Centre, Co Laois.  Contact John 086-8033126. Takes place on Tuesday evenings @ 7:30 pm.
  1. 21st April - Understanding Your Mental Health/What Threatens Your Mental Health.
  2. 28th April - Resilience.  Guest Speaker Stella O’Malley, Counsellor.
  3. 5th May - Managing Stress and Anxiety. Guest Speaker: Derry O’Malley, Human Givens Therapist.
  4. 12th May - How GROW works.  Guest Speaker: Christine Fitzgerald, GROW National Program Co-ordinator.

Mental Health Reform wants to hear from you!

Dr. Shari McDaid and Lara Kelly from Mental Health Reform gave an interesting presentation highlighting the valuable work being done, and results achieved, by Mental Health Reform at GROW's recent annual staff training session in Athlone.

Over the coming months, they are holding four free public meetings across the country to hear from people about their or their family member’s experience of mental health services, to help them advocate for better supports. Numbers are limited so please phone 01-8749468 or email to secure your place.
  • Thursday 16th April, 2.00 – 4.30 pm. Reference Room, Second Floor, Central Library, Lady Lane, Waterford City.
  • Monday 20th April, 2.00 – 4.30 pm. Scouts Hall, Ashe Road, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
Check their website for dates and venues for the other Meetings in May (Meath) and June (Dublin).

Green Ribbon Month of May Approaching Fast!

It was great to see Henry Healy wearing his Green Ribbon when meeting President Obama recently. The Green Ribbon campaign runs throughout May and is rolled out by See Change (the national stigma reduction partnership) in collaboration with their partners (which include GROW). The worthy aim of the campaign is to get people talking openly about mental health. Check their website for how to order your pack of green ribbons and read all about the impact of the 2014 campaign.

GROW members would be familiar with two of the current very active See Change ambassadors: Fiona Kennedy (Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers blogger, who presented at last year's National Weekend) and Ciara McCullough (blogger and organiser of the Killaloe Colour Run - 15th Aug this year - save the date!).

If you know of events taking place during May, or have any planned, let us know so that we can promote them in our May newsletter and on-line as we did during 2014.

Community Based Mental Health Services Survey

Next year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter 1916 Rising - and next year we also see the 10th Anniversary of the publication of the Vision for Change policy document which outlines Ireland's vision for Mental Health Services. One of the core objectives was to focus on the provision of community based mental health care, as opposed to institutional care.  GROW, the World Community Mental Health Movement, is well acquainted with the concept and importance of "community" in relation to mental health. With that in mind, we would like to invite and encourage you to complete a short, anonymous survey. Please forward to colleagues, friends and family to gather their opinions.  Thank you.

PCI College - Mind Connections

PCI College was founded in 1991 to provide training in counselling and psychotherapy for mature students. They have a great regular newsletter and interesting blog. The also provide an affordable counselling service.  This month, they feature a piece on GROW which was submitted by GROW Area Co-ordinator Caroline Crotty.

News from the Capital

Next weekend, Sat 11th April, Anthony Broughan takes part in yet another Ireland Run in Phoenix Park to raise awareness and funds for GROW's Eastern Region. It's not too late to sign up to the run, or just go along to show your support, or donate to his fundraising page.

A new Pilot 8 week Young Adult GROW group starts on Wed 8th April (1:00-3:00pm) in the Artane Day Centre. Contact Louise Carroll on 086-7706067 for more information.

News from the South East

Well done to GROWers down in Dungarvan who once again took to the streets for the St. Patrick's Day Parade with their fabulous banner and won 3rd prize! They are also collaborating with St. Mary's Church of Ireland as part of the West Waterford Food Festival (9th-12th April) - proceeds from sales will be divided between St Mary's and GROW. GROW ribbons will also be on sale on Thurs 30th April.

News from the Mid West

A Charity Ball took place in the Strand Hotel on 21st March as part of the 26 Miles 26 Heroes initiative.This was attended by a number of GROW representatives from the region and it proved to be an enjoyable evening. There was a big raffle on the night and Christine Fitzgerald was presented with her prize of a signed Munster jersey by well known local hero, Keith Earls. MC for the night was Richard Lynch of I Love Limerick, who has kindly promoted a piece about GROW on his popular website. Kate Whelan, of Lisa's Lights, was also in attendance at the event - her idea might hopefully gain traction in other regions...

As part of the Great Limerick Run, which takes place on Sun 3rd May, GROW currently has one team of 4 doing the marathon relay and a further 5+ taking part in the 6 mile event. The target is to raise €1,000 and the plan is to have the GROW office on 33 Henry St open for the day so that GROWers, runners and their families and supporters can get some refreshments during the day. You can show your support by sponsoring the team via iDonate. GROW has been nominated for Mile #4 which is between the city and UL - the plan is that each of the 26 charities will have a presence at their nominated Mile marker.

A number of GROWers were back in the Strand on 29th March for the second Mind Ur Health Expo, sponsored by Anna Gibson-Steel (Holistic Centre of Excellence). GROW had an information stand, along with Bernie Carroll (HSE, promoting the #LittleThings campaign) and a variety of holistic therapists.  Attendees also got the opportunity to listen to a number of talks on depression, mental health, anxiety management and more. Irish TV have produced a feature on the event which is due to air this Wed @ 7pm and Sat @ 5:30pm on Sky Channel 191 - also on-line after that date.

The next month is going to be very busy with Church Gate Collections on 11/12 and 18/19 Apr followed by the Regional Weekend in Bunratty on 25/26 Apr, culminating in the Great Limerick Run on 3rd May. GROW will also have a presence at Dell, Raheen, when the Cycle Against Suicide passes through Limerick on 2nd May. So plenty of opportunities for GROWers in the region to help out and engage in 12th Step work!

Cycle Against Suicide Update

Did you know that Jim Breen, founder of the Cycle Against Suicide movement, not content with cycling around the island of Ireland in late April/May, is currently running the entire 1,400km route in reverse - that is a whopping 50km each day. You can follow his journey via Facebook posts. Similar to the cycle, along the way he stops off at various venues where mental health related events are arranged. During the week he dropped into Portlaoise Prison and the prisoners, feeling his pain, gave Jim a big boost by deciding to run "with him" daily and notch up 50km daily on the prison gym treadmills and in the yard.

You can do your bit during April and May by going out to show your support, by signing up to do sections of the cycle, by helping out at some of the events nationwide or by offering homestay acccommodation (300+ people per night need to be accommodated!). The sense of community and healing power generated by the Cycle is something quite special. Listen to Jim's recent interview with Ray D'Arcy on RTE 1. So a big well done to Jim Breen and all the Cycle Against Suicide Team and we'll see you on the way!

Bits and Pieces

  • Governance Code training for those working in the Community and Voluntary Sector is being provided in a number of venues nationwide during April and May.
  • The School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, is hosting the 16th Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Conference on 4/5 Nov 2015. Closing date for submissions of abstracts for consideration is 30th May. One of this year's themes is Mental Health and papers on the following topics will be considered: Service Outcomes; Care Pathways; Evaluations; Interventions; Prevention; Policy and Practice; Continuing Professional Development; Education; Leadership; Management; Cochrane Review; Technology.

Food for Thought?

Have you seen any GROW posters up in your vicinity (shopping centres, health clinics, pharmacies, GP surgeries, community centres, churches etc)? All GROW offices have A4 and some A3 posters available and there is a space to enter in local group details (day, time, venue or contact number).

There are at least 500 people attending GROW groups each week in Ireland - and it is easy for those attending to forget that not everyone knows about GROW. Some groups could easily accommodate new members, thus increasing benefits with no increase in costs. We would encourage each GROW member to get 2 posters and to put them up where they will be seen. One group in the South East did just that and the results were outstanding.

Perhaps this would be a worthwhile 12th Step activity which could be done nationwide during the Green Ribbon month of May.... Food for thought!
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