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Apr 2015 by PCI College

Connection Profile: GROW - A Mental Health Movement

Caroline Crotty, GROW Local Area Coordinator and Counsellor introduces the organisation, who's mission is to nurture mental health, personal growth, prevention of and full recovery from all kinds of mental illness.

GROW has approx 130 peer-support groups throughout Ireland and each group is supported by an Area Coordinator who is trained in mental health.  The need for locally available mental health supports such as GROW is further demonstrated by the large level of interest in GROW’s community talks which take place around Ireland every year. 

Upcoming talks, which are free of charge, start on:

  • 13th April 2015 (to 11th May) 7.30pm at Donegal Town Family Resource Centre.  Contact Marian 086-785-6912 or email grow@hse.ie14th April 2015 (to 5th May) 11.00am at The Yard, Falcarragh, Donegal.  Contact Maria Whelan 086-770-2860 or email grow@hse.ie
  • 21st April 2015 (to 12th May) 7.30pm at Portarlington Community Centre, Co Laois.  Contact John 086 8033126 or email midlandregion@grow.ie

For details of all ‘community education courses’ log onto www.grow.ie

What is Grow?
GROW is a mental health organisation which helps people to recover from all types of mental health difficulty. Its principal strength is the support members give each other from their own experiences which they share at weekly Grow group meetings.  Founded in Australia in 1957 and based upon many of the principles of AA’s 12 step model, Grow is active worldwide.

How does GROW work?
Some people come to GROW following a mental health breakdown, however, for others GROW helps maintain positive mental health and prevents breakdown from (re)occurring.  GROW groups are held on a weekly basis and last up to two hours including time for tea/coffee and a chat. 

Each GROW group follows a set format or ‘Group Method’ which is the meeting agenda.  Through attending weekly GROW group meetings people are enabled to adopt GROW’s practical, positive philosophy of mental health which is referred to as the ‘GROW Programme’.  GROW members provide mutual support in undertaking practical tasks which in turn encourages a healthy and positive change in thinking, behaviour and relationships.  

GROW actively encourages leadership; for example each weekly GROW group is chaired by a member.  GROW also provides access to leadership development training for members.  There is a social side to GROW with weekends away, cinema or theatre trips – fun is important!  Through GROW, people foster long-lasting friendships and a support network of like-minded people.

What are the main benefits that those who avail of GROW's services can expect?
If people think that that they are on their own and struggling with a mental health difficulty, it can render them isolated and stigmatised.  GROW groups help people with a problem or mental health issue to feel less alone and more understood.  GROW groups empower people to work to solve their own problems because members act as role models for each other. Seeing others who are contending with similar issues and making progress in their lives is inspiring and encouraging.

Support group GROWA GROW group meeting is a safe place for someone to talk about personal issues or struggles and have the support and encouragement of their fellow members.  In a
GROW group, members are equals and come from all walks of life.   GROW members develop skills to assist with building resilience, developing social networks to support them in their recovery and in maintaining positive mental health.

For many people, knowing they are not facing a problem on their own can be comforting and reassuring.  GROW provides a safe place in which to share, listen, support and be supported.  As mentioned above, one of GROW’s principal strengths is the support its members give each other from their own experiences of mental health issues.

Historically, there has been a taboo or stigma attached to the whole area of mental ill-health, even in the language we use for example someone ‘committing’ suicide rather than someone dying by suicide.  Language is slowly changing as are our attitudes towards mental health.  The taboo surrounding mental health is lifting as each year goes by. It is a slow process but the more mainstream the topic of mental health becomes the more we reduce the stigma. 

Each public event and conversation helps to further promote the concept that mental health is something to be cared for and looked-after just like planting a seed – if we do not care for, water, nurture and give sunlight to a seed it will not grow or bloom.  If we have a physical ailment we are comfortable attending a doctor or specialist.  Because we cannot see our mental or psychological wellbeing, we may be a little slower to take care of or nurture it. 

The more we raise awareness of how to care for our mental health the easier it is for people to come forward to seek advice and support. In a UCC study (Chambers & Murphy, 2011) it was found that young people are more inclined to seek help for mental health problems if they have some knowledge about mental health issues and sources of help. 

If people are embarrassed to talk about mental health difficulties encourage them to talk to their GP or to an understanding friend or to consider attending a group such as GROW.  There are supports available it is a matter of finding one that best suits.  Mental ill-health can be a frightening issue to deal with but learning more about it will make a person better placed to deal with it.

Encouragement to attend GROW

Have the courage to give it a try. Self-help groups such as GROW lead to a reduction in hospitalisations, improved social skills, increased self-esteem and healthier behaviour for those who attend.   No introductions are necessary – simply come along to your local meeting. It is important for people to know that GROW is confidential and anonymous.  No formal referrals are necessary, however, some people come to GROW on the advice of their medical professionals or counsellors. 

If anyone wishes to find out about groups in their local area they can look on line at www.grow.ie or feel free to contact the information line 1890474474

Caroline Crotty, GROW Local Area Coordinator & Counsellor (April 2015)

Caroline Crotty B.Soc.Sc. M.A. (Counselling & Psychotherapy) is an Area Coordinator for GROW.  The role of area coordinator requires her to raise awareness of all aspects of mental health including the promotion of locally available services through organising public information events.  The second facet of Caroline’s role as an Area Coordinator is to set up and support peer-support ‘GROW groups’ in the South East and in Cork.  Caroline also works on a one-to-one basis with adolescents and adults as a counsellor in Cork City and at the Newtown Medical Centre, Bantry.  With John Lonergan Former Governor of Mountjoy and current Patron of GROW, Caroline has been promoting positive mental health and parenting throughout Ireland in a series of community health talks. For further information email carolinecrotty@grow.ie or counsellingtherapy@live.ie

Relevant Links / Online Resources:


References / Further Reading:

Chambers D and Murphy F (2011) Learning to reach out: Young people, mental health literacy and the Internet. Inspire Ireland Foundation, Dublin
Kurtz, L F and Chambon A (1987) “Comparison of self-help groups for mental health". Health & social work 12 (4): 275–283.

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