This month's newsletter features the findings of GROW's Outcomes Report on its Recovery Program, a tribute to the late Amy Lalor, a member of GROW in Ireland's National Board; as well as upcoming events including Community Education and Stress Management programmes. 
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March 2017 GROW in Ireland Newsletter

Outcomes Report into GROW's Recovery Program

An outcomes-based report on GROW’s Recovery Program has been conducted to assess the program against key performance indicators. It looks at the impacts, benefits and changes to GROW members as a result of GROW’s Recovery Program.

The 2016 report indicates that GROW's Recovery Program has achieved its outcomes as defined in the Recovery Program Logic. One of the main aims is to improve the mental health of members. The results show that:
  • 46% members had no relapse of symptoms in the past year.
  • 28% of members said their symptoms bothered them very little or not all, a further 37% revealed their symptoms bother them but not to the point where they cannot function.
  • Over 50% said they were coping well or very well. A further 39% reported they are doing alright with 9% not doing very well. 
  • 17% of members have never been hospitalised for mental health issues while 68% were not hospitalised in the past year.
Social integration is important in buffering people from stress and ill-health as well as building self-esteem. The results show that:
  • 50% of members are connected to their family either much of the time or a lot of the time with family members supporting them in their recovery. 
  • 55% of members have the support of others and, in some cases, this is in addition to family supports.
  • 50% of members demonstrated strong levels of engagement in community activities and events on a regular basis.
  • A significant number of members exercised every day (54%). A further 15% exercise weekly.
GROW’s Recovery Program aims to improve how members feel about themselves and how they define who they are. The results show:
  • 40% of members mostly felt positive about themselves with a further 14% having a sense of idenity in who they are, 16% having some sense of their identity and feeling okay about themselves, 20% feeling at ease with who they are and a further 10% re-engaging in the world.    
  • 89% of members were either somewhat optimist or very optimistic about the future with 2% not feeling optimistic and 9% rarely optimistic. 
Recovery is a journey which is as unique as the individual themselves. Recovering from mental health issues includes not only getting better, but achieving a full, satisfying and empowered life. 
Michele Kerrigan,CEO, GROW in Ireland 

[For more see the GROW website]

Amy Lalor - RIP - 23/1/1985 to 27/1/2017

On January 27th last, we lost a much loved and valued member of our GROW family, Amy Lalor, who passed away unexpectedly following an illness.

Despite the seriousness of Amy’s condition, none of us ever expected that it would take her away from us and her passing has left a deep void in our hearts and in the GROW Community, particularly in the Southern Region.

Amy’s contribution to GROW was significant. On joining GROW over eight years ago, Amy quickly grasped and embraced the GROW Program and its concept of Leadership. She helped to set up the GROW Young Adult Group in Wilton in Cork, where she shared her immense knowledge and wisdom, still at the relatively young age of only 24.

Despite battling personal challenges herself, Amy’s support and insight proved invaluable to the GROW Young Adult Group, where she was loved and respected by all who had the privilege of knowing her.

Her strength, compassion and awareness of mental health issues was considerable and she was able to explain the most complex issues and parts of the GROW Program with amazing simplicity and clarity, to those of us struggling to comprehend. She proved a great example of Step 12, carrying “GROW’s message to others in need".

It was evident to all of us who knew her, the depth of Amy’s love for her family- her mam Joan, her dad Denis and her sister Sharon, her step-mother Pauline, her grandparents and of course the adored twins. Amy constantly talked about them and lived for her weekends to Dublin to visit and play with them.

Amy had a great thirst for knowledge and was forever buying and burying herself in books, which she would devour and hoard. It came as no surprise to us when Amy chose to study Psychology at UCC, which contributed to her understanding of the human mind and behaviour.

[To read more of this tribute to Amy, see the GROW website

Amy 'Always Kept in Mind the GROW Groups we Represent and Serve'

The following is a tribute to the late Amy Lalor from the Board of GROW in Ireland. Amy served on the National Board of GROW in Ireland from 2013. She was Vice-Chairperson during 2015/2016.

Amy was a composed and quiet, yet passionate, individual, who was “always keeping in mind the groups we represent and the needs we serve”. In her term of office on the National Board, she was thoughtful and courageous and had no qualms about expressing her views when the need arose.

She also brought, along with her youth, fresh ideas and was a key contributor to the development of the Group Support Worker Role. She was destined for many great things but heartbreakingly her life was cut short in her prime. Amy will be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of spending time in her company.

May she rest in peace.

[Also see the GROW website]

March 31st Deadline for GROW Online Forum Submissions

March 31st is the deadline for submissions to the GROW online forum. All within GROW are being urged to register and partake in the private online forum, which remains 'live' until the end of this month.

Topics from the online forum will drive content for discussion at the later GROW forum planned for mid 2017. Up until 2004, GROW held a forum every two years which provided an opportunity for all strands of the organisation to discuss issues of interest and to look at forward planning and future projects.
As with previous forums, it is planned for all corners of GROW to be represented at the 2017 event – GROW employees, members, Board and Regional Teams, Program Team and volunteers.

To register for the online forum, please send an email to with your name and role within the organisation. Login details will be then circulated to you. Those who have already registered are also encouraged to contribute to the forum and to be mindful of the March 31st deadline for adding submissions.

GROW National Weekend To Take Place in Athlone

GROW's National Weekend will take place from September 29th to October 1st in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone. This year we looked at a number of hotels in terms of cost, accessibility and capacity. The Radisson Blu was the most competitive.  

Over the last twelve months the cost accommodation has gone up and, unfortunately, so too has the cost of the weekend. The total cost per person sharing is €210. For those seeking a single room, the cost will be €270 for the weekend.
Michele Kerrigan, CEO, GROW in Ireland

St. Andrew's College Students Raise over €1,000 for GROW

26 Transition Year students from St. Andrew's College in Booterstown undertook a hugely successful bag-pack fundraiser on February 3rd for GROW's Eastern Region.

The event was held in Dunnes Stores, Cornelscourt and raised €1,070 for GROW. The bag-pack was the brainchild of St. Andrew's student Lucy Kerrigan. 

Among the students who participated on the day were two foreign exchange students from France. The event was supervised by GROW Area Coordinators Leo Pattison and Izabela Morris and St. Andrew's staff

GROW's Eastern Regional Team, staff and management would like to sincerely thank the students and staff of St. Andrew's College for their support of GROW; Dunnes Stores and all who so generously supported the fundraiser. 

The fundraiser is also featured in the St. Andrew's College newsletter.

GROW Praised in HSE Health Need Assessment Report

A recent HSE Health Need Assessment report was launched in Athlone Primary Care Centre. The launch was attended by local and national management of the HSE including Brian Murphy, HSE National Primary Care Manager.
GROW was described in the Health Need Assessment report by a service user as a quality support. According to the service user, they "have found the support of staff in the HSE and the help of GROW has enabled them to continue with life despite setbacks and difficulties and helped them to live life more fully".

Free Community Education Programme in Mullingar

The Midland Region's first GROW Community Education Programme of 2017 got underway on Tuesday, February 28th in Mullingar and will continue each Tuesday during March.

The free programme, which is open to all, is being held in Mullingar Parish Centre

Run in conjunction with the HSE, the five week programme titled ‘Understanding and Minding Your Mental Health’ features an array of speakers offering useful tips, guidance and insights into positive mental health.

Open to all, people can attend all or any one of the sessions which continue each Tuesday night at 7.30p.m. and conclude on Tuesday, March 28th.

The themes for March are:
  • Suicide Awareness and Prevention
  • Managing Stress and Anxiety
  • Mindfulness
  • How GROW Works  
For more details on the free programme, please contact contact Assumpta on 086-811 4135 or email:

[See also coverage in the Westmeath Examiner and the GROW website]

Two Stress Management Workshops in Co. Donegal

Are you interested in learning more about positive mental health and managing stress and anxiety? Two free workshops on Managing Stress are taking place in Co. Donegal in March.

The first workshop was held on March 7th in The Exchange in Castle Avenue, Buncrana.

Meanwhile, a second workshop will take place in Letterkenny, getting underway at 6.30p.m. on Wednesday, March 23rd in Letterkenny Community Development Project’s charity shop in the Courtyard Shopping Centre. The workshop is free to attend and all are welcome.

For more details contact 086-7702860 or 074-9125796.

[See the GROW website and also coverage in Donegal Now and the Donegal Democrat]

Students Undertake Slievenamon Walk for GROW

Forty students from St. Mary’s CBS Portlaoise will undertake a sponsored walk on Slievenamon on Friday, March 10th in aid of GROW's Midland Region.  

Area Coordinator John Farren and Regional Manger Ruairi Powell will join the students for the event. It is hoped a great day will be had by all.

Workplace Programmes to be Delivered in Athlone and Portlaoise

Assumpta Lyons and John Farren, GROW Area Coordinators in the Midland Region, will deliver two workplace presentations this month.

A workplace presentation entitled 'Stress Management in the Workplace'  will be delivered to the staff of Sonas Retirement Village in Athlone on March 9th.

They will also present the talk to the staff of Ballard Lodge Nursing Home, Portlaoise, in Portlaoise Parish Centre on March 21st.

New GROW Group in Cork City

Are you living in the Cork region and interested in starting your journey to positive mental health and recovery? 

A further weekly GROW group is being established at GROW’s office at 34 Grand ParadeCork City (first floor, above Adecco and opposite Cork City Library). The GROW group will meet on Thursdays at 3pm. GROW meetings are free to attend and confidential.

For details contact GROW on 021 4277520 or email:

GROW Gives Two Presentations to Spinal Injuries Ireland  

GROW recently delivered two talks to Spinal Injuries Ireland - one in the North East and the other in the Eastern region.

Regional Manager Martin Cadden gave an hour-long presentation, from 7 to 8pm on January 31st, to the ten people in attendance at the Spinal Injuries Ireland meeting held in Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk.

There was very good interaction, and the highlight of the night was when a young man from GROW's Dundalk Group came along with Area Coordinator Louise Carroll and gave a short testimony. It was his first time to so and it was very well received. 

GROW's Dundalk Group is only up and running for around 12 months and this was a great development for the group. Well done to Louise and to the group itself.

Meanwhile, on February 1st, GROW Area Coordinator Izabela Morris was joined by Ethel and Stan from the Ballyfermot group at a presentation to Spinal Injuries Ireland at the National Rehabiliation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.
Stan spoke about the origins of GROW and his experience of help and friendship at GROW and Ethel gave a heartfelt and very touching testimony. Everybody in the audience got a pack with information including details of meetings in the Eastern Region, leaflets, bookmarks and some readings. 
Izabela extends her sincere thanks to Ethel and Stan for supporting her in the presentation and for carrying GROW's message to others in need. 

Warm Welcome to New Staff

GROW has recently welcomed three new staff members. 

Eimear Purcell joined GROW as an Area Coordinator in November and is based in Limerick. Andrea Best started in February as an Area Coordinator in Sligo/Leitrim while Fiona Daly also started in February. Fiona has taken up a new role as Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator.
 All of us in GROW extend a warm welcome to Eimear, Andrea and Fiona and look forward to working with them in the coming weeks and months.  

GROW Receives Carol Singing Donation

Connect Church in Galway recently donated the proceeds of their Carol Singing fundraiser to two worthwhile local mental health charities – GROW and Pieta House.

The cheque donation took place at their most recent Sunday service in Liosbaun, Galway.

Both GROW and Pieta House were in attendance at the cheque presentation ceremony. Overall €1,000 was collected, which was split equally among the two charities.

[See also the GROW website]

Very Enjoyable North East Celebration

On February 3rd, GROW North East hosted its annual new year celebration in the Ardboyne Hotel. The event was attended by approximately 30 people from the North East Region and North County Dublin.

A beautiful meal was followed by music from the Banjo Man, with GROWers lending huge support both musically and vocally. Meanwhile, the Tambourine man made his "rhythm" and presence felt while the Dubs brought a touch of 60's nostalgia.

Many of those who attended completed the night with a bus tour, by moonlight, of the beautiful surrounding Meath countryside. 

New Newcastle West GROW Group Promoted at Enterprise Event

Area Coordinator Eimear Purcell promoted GROW's new weekly support group in Newcastle West in Co. Limerick at a Bank Of Ireland Enterprise town event in Abbeyfeale.

The Newcastle West GROW group serves the broader West Limerick area and meets every Tuesday at 11am in the Desmond Complex.

“It’s exciting for GROW to be expanding into Newcastle West, a vibrant and thriving community. Based in the Desmond Complex, the group aims to offer support to people right throughout West Limerick,” Eimear emphasises.

“GROW previously held evening meetings in Newcastle West. The new daytime meeting (Tuesday 11am-1pm) is in direct response to the feedback of members and will hopefully be more accessible to people wanting to take action to support and protect their mental health,” she adds.

For more details on the new Newcastle West GROW group, contact Eimear on 086-7780664 or email

[See coverage of the Newcastle West GROW group in the Limerick Leader and the Weekly Observer]

Mary Wished Well in her new HSE Role

Long-standing GROW Area Coordinator Mary French is wished every success in her new appointment with the HSE
Mary has been with GROW for around 10 years and in that time has been of huge assistance to countless people across the North East region. News of Mary's departure was met with sadness, with all in GROW wishing her every success in her new role.

In 2014, Mary single-handledly visited GROW groups across the entire region ensuring that they had the support and materials to continue. Mary had excellent interpersonal skills and always gave very generously of her time.  

Mary will continue to play a big part in supporting and advocating for people experiencing mental health difficulties. 

Pictured is Mary French - front row, last on the right - with Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee and other local group representatives ahead of last year's Meath Mental Health Festival.

Church Gate Collection

GROW's Midland Region held their first church gate collection this year on February 25th and 26th in Stradbally Parish in Co Laois. Thanks is extended to all who so generously supported the collection.

Step 3 of the GROW Program 

This piece on Step 3 of the GROW Program - “We surrendered to the mystery of life and love” has been kindly submitted by GROW Area Coordinator Kathryn Corrigan. 

Step 3 - 'the mystery of life and love' - calls on us to wonder at the beauty all around us, the wonders of nature, life, and love.

Take a minute to think about the beauty of a child’s laugh, the joy of a puppy’s wagging tail, the simple pleasure of a warm cup of tea! All around us is the mystery and wonder of life.

When we become unwell, we lose that wonder and trust in the beauty and goodness of the world. All seems grey and bleak when the “black dog” of depression or the vicious vice of fear comes into our life. We lose hope in the goodness of the world and in ourselves.

In order to begin to hope again, we must allow ourselves to be open to the beauty and joy of the world. We can find joy in simple everyday things like a joke, a piece of chocolate or a warm bath. Or we can go for a walk in nature – a forest, beach, hillside, and take time to really look at the beauty all around us.

[To read more of this piece, visit the GROW website

Special thanks is extended to the Castleblayney, Monaghan and Cavan Community Groups for their input and to Kathryn Corrigan, GROW Area Co-ordinator for Cavan/Monaghan for submitting this piece.

Further Reflection on Step 3 of the GROW Program

This reflection has been submitted by Michael from Donegal.

GROW's 'Blue Book' suggests that the words 'God' and 'Good' might be used interchangeably depending on one’s own religious belief. An internet check of the meaning of the word ‘Good’, when used as a noun, shows that it is synonymous with virtue, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness, integrity, principle, dignity, rectitude, rightness; honesty, truth, honour, incorruptibility, probity, propriety, worthiness, merit; irreproachableness, blamelessness, purity, justice and fairness… a tall order, but something to be aspired too!
I am an agnostic, which means that I really don’t know if there’s a God or not. One might argue that religious believers don’t know either, but they believe anyway – I suppose that is what you call faith.
From my position, firmly on the fence, I note that every culture on the face of the planet seems to have a belief in some sort of deity, so it would appear that such faith, is a normal aspect of human existence.

[To read more of this piece, visit the GROW website]

'GROW' - A Reflection by Lisa

GROW is a 12 step program, that helps people who are feeling low.
It began in Australia in 1957 by a man named Con Keogh.
It has a little blue book, the bible it’s called to me.
It has pieces to help with all parts of life so us GROWers can really see.
With the book and hard work, trust me it can really change your life.
Although you have to be committed as it won’t happen overnight.
The hard work is really worth it though, and over time it does pay off
After 17 months in GROW I am confident and no longer feeling lost.
If you're feeling down, anxious or depressed, please go to a meeting - it’s really worth getting dressed.
Your life can change for the better, if you wait around to see,
I felt my life was over but GROW was just the start for me.
By Lisa 
Gorey 1 Group


'Take Flight' - A Poem by a South East GROW Member

You wish to know is there any pen or paper
to write how to understand the misery of man. 
No, there is no such pen nor paper.
Misery is temporary, like the weather.
You must trample the misery, not the man.
It's only yourself can make the plan.
Be kind to yourself, be wise about knowledge.
Take flight but only for a while.
Trample misery before it will trample you.

Boost Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing By Taking Part in a Parkrun

With the arrival of Spring and longer daylight hours, why not boost your mental wellbeing by partaking in some physical exercise in the great outdoors. It could even form part of your GROW 12th step work.

Parkrun organises free weekly timed runs, walks and jogs all over the world including in over 50 locations across Ireland. Usually held on weekend mornings, Parkrun events are open to all – from juniors and first timers, Olympians and octogenarians…

You can find out more about taking part in a Parkrun or even about organising a weekly event in your locality by visiting the Parkrun website.

Seminar on 'Social Prescribing'

A seminar will take place in Waterford later this month on improving health and wellbeing, including mental health, through the concept of 'social prescribing'

Social prescribing enables health care professionals to refer people to a range of community, non clinical services to support health and wellbeing.

The seminar takes place on Friday, March 31st from 9.15am to 1pm in City Hall, The Mall, Waterford and presents an opportunity to learn about the concept of social prescribing, explore models of social prescribing and hear about social prescribing from a Waterford perspective.

The seminar is aimed at: 

  • GPs and primary care team members
  • Voluntary and community sector organisations
  • Public health professionals
  • Anyone with in an interest in models and practice of social prescribing
The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Lynne Friedli - a researcher with an interest in mental health promotion and social justice. Other speakers include Emma Maguire - Waterford Traveller Health Project Coordinator; Carmel Gallagher - Social Prescribing Coordinator Donegal; Dr. David Janes - General Practitioner, Co. Waterford and Fergal Fox - General Manager Health Promotion & Improvement, HSE. The seminar is being chaired by Dr. Derval Howley, Head of Service, Health & Wellbeing, HSE.

Details can be found on the GROW Facebook page, GROW website and by clicking here. Also also contact Kate Moloney, Healthy Waterford Coordinator on 0761 10 2639 or email

Screenings of 'Meeting with Ivor' Documentary

Screeings are continuing this month of Alan Gilsenan's documentary based on the life and work of psychiatrist Ivor Browne.

The documentary was launched in January in the Irish Film (IFI) in Dublin. Among those who appear in the cinematic portrayal are including Tommy Tiernan, Sebastian Barry and Tom Murphy.

Screenings continue in Dublin's IFI and in the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork.

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