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December 2015 GROW in Ireland Newsletter

The Caring and Sharing Community

This piece on Step 12 of GROW’s 12 Step Program, “we carried the GROW message to others in need”, is an edited extract from GROW’s Program Training Manual.

The Caring and Sharing Community is the Third Essential Feature of Grow (the first two being the Grow Program and Group Method). It starts with you and me caring about each other, needing one another, doing things with each other, giving constructive leadership to each other and sharing the thoughts of our minds, the striving of our hearts, indeed our highest aspirations.

The more deeply we are affected by the loving acceptance and support we experienced from our earliest attendance at GROW groups, the more unshakably we believe in the importance of sharing with others and nurturing them through the painful early stages of their growth with the group and the GROW Program.

A levelling outreach is the indispensable starting point with each new person who comes to GROW for help – no matter how troubled or lost they are. The elementary meeting of human beings contains implicitly the offer of and invitation to friendship, which GROW defines as ‘shared maturity’. It is the goal of growth that is held out to everyone who comes into the Program. The sicker the person is, the more we must be prepared to reach out to him, to get him moving with us again at the point where he has stopped growing – to believe in him all the more when he no longer believes in himself. For ‘love is the consistent active concern for the whole welfare of another human being as equally important to one’s own’.

How many of us can say with feeling that we’ve been ‘loved back to health?’ That is not to deny that we’ve had to do a great deal of work on our thinking, our behaviour and our actions as well. And how many once tormented and shattered Growers do you know who will tell you that they were motivated to struggle and grow only because some one significant person, or the group, dared to be generous with their love, their time and patient leadership, in between the weekly meetings?

[Read full article...]

Plenty of Food for Thought @ T4WB15

An eclectic and enthusiastic group of mental health organisations, activists, practitioners, researchers, volunteers and assorted technology gurus gathered in the trendy Marker Hotel in the heart of  Dublin’s Silicon Docks recently for the third annual ReachOut Technology for Wellbeing International Conference.  GROW attended the inaugural T4WB13 Conference and this year Rob Stephen presented a short paper entitled “KISS @ Work: Peer Support Group Evaluation in GROW” at one of the parallel sessions. Full details of the conference, including most of the presentations, are available on the ReachOut website and some photos are available on the ReachOut Facebook page. There is also an interesting Irish Times article on the event.

[Read full article...]

“Let’s GROW” – Module delivered in Mayo Recovery College

November 3rd 2015 was an important milestone in GROW’s collaboration with the Advancing Recovery in Ireland (ARI) project. GROW delivered its first module in the Mayo Recovery College, entitled ‘Let’s GROW’ – which focused on many aspects of GROW and its philosophy.

The Mayo Recovery College (MRC) is in its second year delivering modules on all aspects of mental health & recovery. MRC is a unique project in Ireland that aims to promote the values of recovery in mental health through a collaborative approach to learning, and a collaborative approach to designing modules. There is no distinction made between professionals & people with lived experience of mental health difficulties. Essentially, what this means is that collaboration, inclusiveness & equality are key features throughout the whole process – from planning, to production of course material, through to delivery to students.

GROW in the Western Region was delighted to be a part of this process. So how did we come to be involved?

[Find out more...]

What led me to GROW - Michael's Story

My name is Michael and I want to share a little of my background, and also what led me to GROW.

I was born and reared in Athenry, Co. Galway and I am the eldest of five children. I had a very good childhood even though my family weren’t the wealthiest and times were tough. I got on very well in national school and had lots of friends there. As I moved into secondary school, times again were great up to my Inter (Junior) Cert in 1986 were I excelled with 10 honours and I was very popular with my fellow students and teachers.

Circumstances changed for me in fourth and fifth year in school. I was physically and emotionally bullied by a fellow student. It was constant although he only hit me sometimes, only when I called him his nickname. He wasn’t the brightest of students.

I failed my first Leaving Cert in 1988 due to the bullying but I repeated and did reasonably well the following year. While I was working in Galway city in the summer of 1989 I bumped into that bully again and I got very angry at him and beat him up, although I detest fighting in any form.

From 1989 to early 1991 I worked in a few bars and one hotel and again was popular with fellow workers and my employers. In fact 1990 was the best year of my life and 1991 was the worst, and now I’ll tell you why.

[Read Michael's full story on-line...]

News from the North West Region

GROW in Ireland (North West Region) are delighted to announce a new support group in Bundoran for people living with mental health problems. All people who are affected by mental health issues are invited and encouraged to participate. Meetings will be held weekly, with the inaugural meeting taking place on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 in the Bundoran  Pastoral Centre. For further information please contact Noeleen on 086-8516939.

News from the North East Region

On Friday morning 9th Oct, as part of Meath Mental Health Week, a Fundraiser/Coffee morning in aid of GROW was held in the parish hall in Trim.  We had roughly 30 people in attendance. Christina and Mary French did a short introduction to GROW and a brief run down of the 12 steps. Local lady, Molly Farrell came along that morning to very courageously speak about what it was like for her to live with a diagnosis of Bi-polar.

The event was very well received, people stayed and chatted afterward and we even sold a few GROW books! The total raised was €172.23! We would especially like to thank Christina for all her help and also Noel French who promoted and advertised the event by distributing leaflets to all the households in Trim and advertising in the local newsletter 'Focus', all of which he very kindly did at his own expense. Pictured is Noel presenting cheque to Christina.

Stepping Out in Dublin

Seeing as we are looking at 12th Step activities in this December newsletter, some folks in the Dublin area may be interested to learn of a new social initiative, Step Out Ireland, which arranges social activities and workshops for people suffering from social anxiety - it is estimated that 1 in 8 people in Ireland suffer from social anxiety.  Since their launch in May they have held over 20 social meets & workshops with over 100 different people coming along. This has include simple coffee & chat meets, workshops for job hunting (due to the anxiety a large proportion of our members struggle to find employment), social anxiety books & documentary discussion meets, group awareness meets, etc.They are in the process of arranging workshops around interpersonal skills and relaxation techniques to assist their members to lead more successful lives.

For more information check out their website (where you can listen to founder, Francis Cleary, talking to Ryan Tubridy) or Facebook page.

Updates from Gareth O'Callaghan & Dr Terry Lynch

Some years ago DJ Gareth O'Callaghan spoke at our National Weekend in the Clare Inn. Gareth is also a mental health campaigner and author  (e.g. bestseller "A Day Called Hope: A Journey Beyond Depression") and he maintains an interesting and sometimes provocative mental health blog on his Facebook page. Gareth is planning a number of talks/events/get-togethers in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Dublin, commencing February 2016, so check out his Facebook page to keep up to date.

Meanwhile Dr Terry Lynch, who has also spoken at Regional Weekends in the Mid West and more recently during Limerick Mental Health Week, is hoping to share his vast knowledge and experience and plans are underway to create and deliver an on line mental health course. The aim is to address a glaring gap in understanding of and training in mental health. We look forward to hearing more about this soon. Dr Lynch is author of a number of publications including Beyond Prozac, Selfhood and most recently Depression Delusion.

The Limerick Privilege

Some volunteers from GROW joined many others in Thomond Park on 5th November for the Limerick Privilege conference hosted by the Limerick Volunteer Centre. Nina Arwitz, CEO Volunteer Ireland, gave an interesting welcoming address in which she discussed some of the trends in volunteering: -
  • There are more younger people looking for volunteering experiences to enhance their CVs and more healthy elderly people with vast experience who are looking forward to an active retirement.
  • That said, most volunteers now look for short term opportunities and are more inclined to move from cause to cause, depending on what is trending.
  • New volunteers can inject diversity and fresh ideas into organisations, provided they are welcomed and listened to.
Conn Murray, CEO Limerick City & County Council gave an impressive account of all the interesting projects in the pipeline for Limerick and Sheila Nordan (ICTR) gave the diverse mix of organisations present some useful tips on charity regulation procedures and reporting (SORP). Mayor Liam Galvin officially launched the Limerick Privilege volunteer discount card which will enable local organisations to reward their volunteers. At one of the breakout sessions, John Curran, Manager Donegal Volunteer Centre, held a fascinating workshop on how to overcome the challenges of rural volunteering.

From a GROW perspective, most volunteers originate from GROW groups where members volunteer to lead the meeting and then maybe take on an Organiser or Recorder (O&R) role.  The challenge for GROW is how to provide a constant flow of members who not only take on these roles, but who might also consider taking on roles on the Program Team, their local Regional Team or the National Executive (Board). The strategy to achieve this is well underway with the Leadership course and the O&R training sessions which have been taking place nationwide during 2015 and we hope to see the benefits of these initiatives during 2016!

Lusting for Life

There was huge interest the last two Sunday nights with the showing of Bressie's Ironmind programme on RTE2. The 2 part series followed four participants, who, like Bressie, have suffered from mental health problems, as they prepared for an endurance challenge.  One quote which stood out from a GROW perspective was this: "One of the most glaringly evident aspects of the process in terms of what benefited these individuals the most became clear very quickly. Yes, the counselling, therapy, CBT, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition etc. all had a positive impact. But it was in fact the social, peer to peer support that seemed to offer this group the most solace and comfort. The pure fact that we could ring, text or mail each other, or meet up and speak openly about how we were feeling without fear of judgement cannot be quantified".

Bressie, who also has a book out, "Me and My Mate Jeffrey", is founder of the A Lust for Life website which has a wealth of interesting articles on wellbeing and mental & physical health, such as this one on Resilience by Dr Olivia Hurley. Maybe there are some GROWers out there who would like to submit an article...? You can vote here for Bressie's book in the Irish Book Awards 2015.

Rumour has it that Bressie is giving a talk in the Hotel Kilkenny on Friday 11th December at a HSE / ARI (Advancing Recovery in Ireland) conference: "A Journey of Hope". Anyone interested in attending should contact by Wed 2nd December latest.

GROWing Better Together in 2016?

A big thank you to all those who were involved in the production of our GROWing Better Together video entry and to all those who voted over the past few months. Unfortunately we didn't get into the top 10 shortlist this year (almost 200 videos were entered across 3 categories) but it's all about the journey and in the process hopefully we have touched a few people who might have been struggling and looking for support. As we say in GROW: "If a thing is worth doing, its worth doing badly for a start and while you’re improving"!

Giving Tuesday was founded in the United States in 2012 as an answer to the start of the Christmas shopping spree which is often referred to as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’. Since then, Giving Tuesday (1st December this year) has become a global day of giving where charities and voluntary groups recognise and thank their supporters while the supporters show their gratitude for the important work which the charities do throughout the year.  We are encouraging all our supporters to help Make Ireland Better and get involved in this #GivingTuesday campaign.

News from Down Under

As we all know, GROW originated in Australia in 1957 and GROW in Australia recently released a short video with the Governor General of Australia and GROW Patron, Sir Peter Cosgrove, extolling the virtues of GROW's peer support program. You can watch it here:

There is a very interesting interesting article in the inaugural edition of the National Association of GPs (NAGP) GP Ireland magazine (available on-line). The piece is written by Irish GP Dr Airfric Boylan, who emigrated to Australia in 2014 and in it she compares the well functioning "Better Access to Mental Health Care" initiative in Australia, which relies primarily community care delivered by GPs and community psychologists, to the current system in Ireland.  The spend on mental health care in both jurisdictions is equivalent in terms of % of GDP, but the Australian model has less spend on psychiatry and acute beds and more on community, easily accessible psychologists. Some learning lessons for us here in Ireland perhaps?

There is a worrying trend in Ireland with so many young GPs emigrating and perhaps one of the reasons is the high levels of stress in the profession, with 3 out of 4 GPs reporting high stress levels.


Not sure how many of you have heard of the condition "Trichotillomania"? It is a condition not often spoken about in which people experience the urge to pull out their hair. Newstalk's Simon Tierney explores the issue with Dublin student, Katie, in his latest monthly #MentalWealth podcast series, in the hope of raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with this condition.  Interestingly, Jade, one of the participants on RTE's Iron Mind programme also spoke about this issue.

Earlier podcasts on OCD, Bipolar, Anorexia and Depression are also available on-line.

Upcoming Events and other Snippets

Here's a list of upcoming events during December which may be of interest to our readers: -
  • Fishamble: The New Play Company presents Silent by Pat Kinevane in aid of Mental Health Reform on Friday 4th December at 6.30 pm in the Unitarian Church, 112 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Information and Tickets.
  • The ESRC Youth Mental Health seminar titled "Self-stigma: Theory, Research & Practice" will take place on Friday 4th December at the School of Psychology, NUIG, Galway.
  • DCUtv are hosting a 24 hour TV live show in the hope of beating mental health stigma whilst raising vital funds for Jigsaw.
  • A group from GROW will be Carol Singing in the Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick, on Monday 21st December from 6-8pm. Come along and support us or drop in to the practice sessions in 33 Henry Street every Friday evening 8-9:30pm. The more the merrier!
  • First Fortnight is a charity-based organisation with the express aim of challenging mental health prejudice through the creative arts. They achieve this by organising and hosting the First Fortnight festival during the first 2 weeks of the new year. Events are primarily in Dublin with a few outside the capital.
  • The Cycle Against Suicide 2016 Route has been released and people can now register to take part or to provide home stays. In fact, founder Jim Breen is taking part in the TEDx Omagh events on Monday 30th November so we wish him well with that.
  • Mental Health Ireland have recently launched a fresh new website. I think you will agree that they have done a nice job!
  • Suicide or Survive have a few upcoming Wellness Workshops in December and early in 2016. Check out their calendar to see if there is one near you. They are also recruiting participants for their next Eden Programme.

And Finally...

Thank you for reading our newsletter during 2015.  We wish all our readers a Peaceful, Joyful and Contented Christmas Season and the best in Life, Love and Happiness for 2016.  We look forward to engaging with you again early in 2016.

If you have comments, queries, suggestions or wish to contribute or help out in the production of our newsletter in anyway, we'd love to hear from you. If you enjoy our content please do forward to friends, family and colleagues to help spread the word - if you don't, please tell us!
The GROW Newsletter Team
Copyright © 2015 GROW in Ireland, All rights reserved.
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