April 2024 Newsletter – Hope

April 2024 Newsletter:
Hope Springs!
April sees green shoots popping out of the ground, more hours of daylight, and a sense of renewal. Hope shines through in these shoots, light, and celebrations. Hope is the flame that guides us toward wellness. It is the spark that warms us in the darkest times. Hope is something we can share and draw on whenever we need to. Our Grow group members have a lot to say about hope and where they find it. Throughout the newsletter, you will find answers to the questions 'Where do you find hope in your day-to-day?' and 'How has hope influenced your mental health journey?' submitted by Growers all over the country. You'll also find lots of Grow news and updates. Enjoy our latest newsletter! You can reach us on our social media platforms and by email [email protected]

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Dear Grow Members,

I am very pleased to announce on behalf of the Grow Board of Trustees, our decision to extend Annabel O'Keeffe`s employment contract as Grow Interim CEO effective from 5th of September 2024. Annabel will remain in position until the 5th of September 2025. It is intended that a thorough recruitment process for the CEO role will be held as we move into Quarter 2 of 2025.


Annabel has dedicated considerable time and energy working diligently to help guide Grow Mental Health, through our Re-imagining process, and the Trustees decision is that Annabel should continue her work with the implementation of the plan, to provide a consistent and informed approach. The Board recognises that Grow Mental Health is in the middle of some significant changes, and that Annabel`s strategic vision and leadership skills will undoubtedly help guide the Grow Community and Organisation through this period of change.  

The Board appreciates the importance of Annabel`s leadership experience, compassion and insight that have been placed into the Grow community, leading towards an exciting future for Grow with our members at its heart. Annabel continues to lead by example, through dedication, hard work and enthusiasm, while emphasising the quality of Grow`s people, staff and volunteers, and the potential to build on a strong culture in support of our members.  

The Board of Trustees would like to thank Annabel for all her work to date.  

John O Donnell 

Chairperson, Board of Trustees


What is a Summer Solstice – GO YELLOW Campaign?

Extra daylight helps our mood and our energy levels.  June 21st is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as the Summer Solstice where the “sun is standing still” and marks the official beginning of Summer. Daylight increases our serotonin and melatonin levels which boosts our overall mood leading to better mental health and wellbeing. So here in Grow Mental Health that is definitely a cause for celebration.

Register here GO YELLOW event registration link.

Walking, running, stretching, picnicking, or hiking, this year you choose the event. Between June 20th and 23rd we need you, the people who know and support our work to organise local fundraising events which bring us together and allow us to enjoy the extra hours of daylight. 

It's easy all you need to do is:

1. Work out what lifts your spirit and create and event around that activity. Be it a hike, cycle, walk, yoga session, picnic, swim fitness challenge - whatever you like!

2. Register your event here GO YELLOW event registration link.
2. Generate and share your event (or event QR code) by each out to family, friends, colleagues, local businesses and asking for donations and/or support over the GO YELLOW weekend.
3. Gather for your event between 20 and 23 June wearing yellow.
4. Let us know how you got on by sharing on social media using. #GOYELLOWFORMENTALHEALTH and #GROWMENTALHEALTH

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels to learn about the fundraisers you can join in your area.


Why do we fundraise? Grow Mental Health provides free, non-judgmental support for those dealing with mental health challenges or life’s struggles. We have done so for over 50 years in Ireland. Our groups are open to anyone over the age of 18 and there are no waiting lists. People meet weekly and share their experience of overcoming their challenges, whether it be living with anxiety, depression, psychosis or making sense of a bereavement or an estranged relationship. Group members work through these issues together using our structured and proven 12 Step program. Thankfully people coming to our groups for support have never had to pay and we intend to keep it that way. Every cent raised through fundraising events like our Go Yellow campaign whether large or small helps us maintain and expand our meeting network, allowing us to reach even more people throughout Ireland either with in person or online meetings. You can donate today by clicking on this button.
Donate to Grow
   by Jonathan, Grow Group Member, Eastern Region

We all come to Grow with the hope of recovery - ‘hopefully’ a full recovery. And many do make a full recovery, after a year maybe, or several years.

As we strive for recovery from anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia, what else can we hope for? What else can Grow help us with as we still suffer? No matter how long we strive, what can hope give us on a week to week, day to day basis if we so choose?

We can grow in love and maturity. We can always grow in our personhood no matter what the circumstances. The hardships of this world give us plenty of opportunities for the more subtle forms of love to grow, like forgiveness, forbearance, loyalty, faith, courage, trust, fidelity, patience, helpfulness, endurance, generosity and letting go. As we grow in these qualities are we not healing our soul and heart? And in a small way the people around us?

Like love, maturity can always grow no matter what if we so choose. We can grow in understanding of ourselves and life. It does take some time and effort, but wisdom is as valuable and as enduring as gold.

Maturity also involves acceptance. The acceptance of human suffering and the acceptance of how life is now. As we mature, we develop self-control and paradoxically develop choice. No matter what our present circumstances we can always choose our attitude.

In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl observed that even in the horrors of the concentration camps of the holocaust, the prisoners had one last freedom - the freedom to choose their attitude. Some prisoners, in the face of extreme suffering and certain death, chose to keep their humanity. They transcended their situation. They shared what little bread they had and gave a comforting word to their fellow prisoners. They were few in number, but they were there. They were not diminished by their suffering but ennobled by it.

There is always hope if you so choose.

By John, Grow Group Member, Northwest Region

The very first response in answer to the question What Can Grow Offer You? is HOPE OF RECOVERY (Grow Program Book, Page 13). Hope can be defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a thing to happen. Our Grow leaflets and website include amongst reasons to join Grow "To find hope in our members stories which are shared at weekly support meetings". This is at the heart of Grow peer support, believing that we are all capable of helping others because "people feel less alone if they can talk about their experiences and can share coping strategies and what works for them"

If there is hope for anyone, there is hope for me, if there is hope for me then there is hope for anyone (Grow Program Book p. 105).

The Grow Program teaches us that while Feelings are real but they may not correspond to the facts, however feelings can change how we think if we allow them to. What brings us hope is when we can find the space for new ideas and a new way of thinking that provides for greater possibilities and more opportunities for hope to flourish within ourselves.  

My feelings will get better as my habits of thinking and acting get better (Grow Program Book p. 24).

If we can reconcile that Hope itself is not an emotion, but is more a way of thinking, and if we can accept ultimately that we do have the capacity to control our thoughts, this provides us with grounds for further hope. If we understand that we have less direct control over our emotional feelings, then we can learn not to focus too much on our negative feelings.  

Step 9. We developed will power to do the right thing in spite of our feelings (Grow Program Book p. 15).

In my Grow group we often repeat the phrase `Mental health is caught not taught` when referring to the Grow Wisdom Mental Health can’t be taught, it has to be learned together. Hope is developed from sharing our experiences, thoughts, and friendship.  

At the end of Grow meetings, The Affirmation of Good is recited with these helpful words:

We hope for ourselves and wish to one another and to every human being, enduring friendships, an end to hostility, and the best in life, love and happiness (Grow Program Book p. 100).


By Darragh, Grow Group member, Sligo

Hope is the Gift in Life that we are born with and die with. The Alpha and the Omega. Hope is the promise that we carry in life from Birth to Death and from Death to Life. 

Hope offers us a shield in response to our misdirected minds. My mind tells me lots of things - to be logical to be reasonable; what might happen what might never happen - robbing me of my alpha my omega...hope. 

Hope is seeing the Grow Book as a creative power by Cornelius Keogh: to help people grow through Grow. It's a lineage that passes through peoples words, their thoughts, and most of all their mindset and actions. Showing at meetings that you too can grow and grow. 

Hope is seeing someone try, seeing your problems in their eyes, seeing their heartbreak, their little mannerisms and quirks and perks and style. Hope is seeing someone smile and reminds us that the creative power has sustained after a rough emotional shower. 

Hope is the argument that repudiates death. That switches darkness to light, sadness to joy, despair to hope.

Hope is the joy at the Airport of Life. Of Births and deaths. Of arrivals and departures. The line that connects the heart to the brain. That in our final hour pushes back darkness and reminds us that we, like life's problems, too shall pass. 

Hope is the push of the alpha to the omega. The journey from earthly darkness to universal light. The driving force contained in all. So if you're ever lonely, sad, or in despair remember that hope is not a word but an energy contained in each other and everywhere.

By The Members of Tom's Grow Group in the Midwestern Region

Thomas attended his first Grow meeting in early 1993 and was a very regular attender at his weekly meeting over the next 30 years until illness confined him to his home. Thomas even managed to access his Grow meeting on Zoom during Covid with the assistance of his brother in law.

During his years in Grow, Thomas always put the needs of his fellow members to the fore. His knowledge of the Grow Program, his wisdom, courage in the face of adversity, common sense and an unwavering sense of humour characterised his support of others. Thomas worked tirelessly to support and promote Grow over the years, at every opportunity and in every way he could. Thomas shared his recovery story in various settings and in written form for the benefit of other Grow members. He was instrumental in getting the Grow program made available in Braille. He joined the Midwestern Regional Team and never missed a meeting. His contributions were always thought-provoking, insightful and witty when required!!

Thomas never allowed his identity to be defined by his visual impairment and it was an incredibly proud time for him and his Grow family when, with encouragement and support, he moved into independent living. This became the driver for his many personal achievements.

Thomas was an inspiration to all in Grow, he was much loved by all he met and supported along the way. Thomas was reliable, trustworthy, and such a good friend to so many who were struggling.

At the many social events Grow has had over the years, Thomas was front and centre in leading the singing, displaying some fancy steps on the dance floor, and often being the last to leave the party.
All in Grow are saddened at the loss of Thomas. Our lives are the richer for having had him in our community and as the light has gone out on his earthly life, we are confident that he is enjoying the rewards of a life courageously and generously lived. Rest in peace Tom and know that your name will always live on in the Grow family.
Tom and Grow Group Member Rob Stephen on a beautiful day coming together for Grow.

by Síle Tracey, Grow Marketing, Communications, and Fundraising Manager

Tullamore local Jass Mollen went above and beyond to “change” her life for the better in recent months.

She knew her mental health was being impacted by both her weight and her mobility issues so she set herself a personal goal to become a healthier version of herself.

With the support of her friends, family, and the community of Grow Mental Health in the Midlands she began a health transformation journey to raise both awareness and funds for Grow Mental Health. Jass chose to make this a fundraiser as she attends a Tullamore Mental Health Peer Support Group run by Grow for support with her own mental health.

Jass said “I really wanted other people to know that this free weekly support is available to anyone over 18 without a referral or appointment in cities and towns all over Ireland. Attending my support group meant I felt strong enough to take on this ambitious personal goal and knowing that my group would be there to support me especially on the tougher days gave me the confidence. I couldn’t have achieved this without the weekly motivation and support of my Grow group. I wanted to give back to Grow for all the support I received”.

Under the close supervision of her doctor, Jass chose to take a slow and steady approach to achieving her goals and she is delighted with her healthier lifestyle. Jass lost two stone in weight and also shaved her head in December 2023 as part of the fundraiser.

Grow Mental Health Area Co-ordinator Michelle McCormick (pictured above with Jass) said, “We are so proud of what Jass has achieved both in terms of her own health and the amount of €1,200 which she has raised to support our work. With fundraisers like this Grow Mental Health will be able to continue to offer support free of charge to those who need it most and we urge others to consider raising fund to help us do this.

Grow Mental Health are the longest running mental health charity in Ireland and they run a network of peer support groups all over Ireland.

For more information on the supports offered by Grow Mental Health or to chat to us about fundraising ideas see grow.ie or call our info line on 0818 474474”.



In Ireland, we are known for the ‘Gift of the Gab’. In this episode of the Grow Mental Health Podcast, we talk about …well…talking. What can honest conversation do for us and those listening? What does it mean to truly listen? How do both of these acts show up in the Grow journey of hope and recovery? Jenny, Grow group member and board member Gerry, and Grow Area Coordinator Cecilia look at the different ways we connect and heal through the art of conversation. Thank you to Cecilia and Gerry for your time and for your beautiful insights into conversation and listening.
By Marion, Kanturk Grow Group

Each month in Cork, the Kanturk & District Community Council select a different nominee for Person Of The Month. Nora Daly, our Kanturk Grow Group Organiser, was nominated by a group member and won Person Of The Month for November 2023. Nora then went forward as a finalist for 2023 Person Of The Year announced at the Gala Night on the 9th of February, 2024. It created huge excitement for our Group, and gave great publicity to Grow in Kanturk.

Nora was a founder member of the Kanturk Group over 30 years ago and has been a member since. The Gala Night was held in Kilbrin and Nora was supported by many family members, friends and Grow Supporters. It was a marvellous night, with a large crowd attending, with many representatives from other Organisations. All contestants were interviewed on stage by MC Michael Breen and gave an account of their voluntary work within their organisations.
Nora spoke about Grow being a voluntary organisation, where people can attend to get support and help not just with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, but with any aspect of their lives. She spoke about the non-judgmental acceptance in the group, the confidentiality, the wisdom of the Grow Program, and the peer support of fellow members. Nora finished off her interview by quoting one of Grows favourite wisdoms “You Alone Can Do It But You Cannot Do It Alone”
Nora told the story of Grow very well, and while she did not win Person Of The Year, the Kanturk Grow Group consider her “Our Person Of Many Years”!

Hear more form Nora about her inspiration for starting the Kanturk Group when she was a guest on the Grow Mental Health Podcast: Be the Change you Want the See.
by Jonathan, Grow Group Member, Eastern Region

Daniel, a psychiatrist with lived experience of mental illness wrote this book to help people recover from schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric diagnoses and to help everyone lead fuller and more meaningful lives.

Daniel was hospitalised 3 times in his early life and was given the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Here he shares his story and what helped him recover and the therapy, eCPR, that he and others developed to help people heal from extreme distress and recover their lives.

An essential aspect of recovery is not to view severe emotional distress as mental illness but as an important opportunity for growth and development. Often when we are very distressed, we retreat into an inner monologue and what helps heal is to relate with others authentically heart to heart. When we are withdrawn inside connection can empower and revitalise us.

Daniel being a psychiatrist is not anti-medication but uses medication at low levels and for as short as possible. True healing of deep human wounds is elsewhere. He sees distressed people as sources of wisdom instead of threats to society. Daniel relates that when he was young, he suppressed his emotions and did not know himself. He was not his authentic self or related to people or life authentically. His was a journey of finding his “Voice”. The evolution of his consciousness. The natural drive in all of us to become whole. According to Daniel we need to connect heart to heart with those around us. When the natural drive to wholeness is thwarted by trauma, we experience distress. Whereas it is an attempt to become fully human. Where a breakdown can become a breakthrough. Psychosis is an active attempt by a person’s deepest Self to reintegrate.

We can reconnect to our deepest self, the source of our Voice. Like an artist finds his creative Voice we can develop our unique Voice, our values, our meaning. Daniel talks about “Ubuntu”, a Zulu word meaning we are persons through relating to others, when safe and respected we reveal our life’s Voice. We come to know who we are.

Emotional CPR, or eCPR is a therapeutic approach to help people through emotional distress. At its heart one relates to another from the heart. There is no judging or fixing. One is fully present with another. Noone is an expert or has the all the answers. Each is equal. Each expresses emotion as it arises in the present. This transcends the inner monologue, the separation. The person helping connects by listening with the eyes, ears and heart. This helps heart resuscitation and restores the dialogical flow of life and the return of energy and life force. The person is helped to find their own answers. Their Voice. The book gives some examples what this person to person relating looks like. By relating we all can recover our Self’s and our Life.

By Rob Stephen, Grow Group Member, Midwestern Region

Sixty five Grow members gathered in the Killarney Oaks Hotel, in the Kingdom of Kerry, from 22nd to 24th March for the annual regional Grow weekend.  The hotel was close to the beautiful Killarney National Park and within walking distance of Muckross House. Many Growers took the opportunity to reconnect with nature and with each other through outdoor rambles. Jerry Cronin hosted a table quiz on Friday night, which gave attendees time to digest a fine meal.  On Saturday morning, Growers were treated to a powerful and uplifting testimony, with a very happy ending, from Kanturk Grower Catherina. She was followed by guest speaker, Brian Hurley, a multi-award winning producer and broadcaster. Brian enthralled his audience with tales from his childhood (including an appearance on the Late Late Toy Show), his working life (with some anecdotes from his time producing The Today Show with Daithi and Maura) and some recent health challenges which he had overcome, much to the surprise of many medical professionals.  After lunch on Saturday, Jerry eased people into a relaxing afternoon with a meditation session. Some Grow members then took off to see the sights in Killarney Town, others headed off to Muckross House and nearby Torc Waterfall whilst a handful of Growers relaxed in the Hotel and caught up on the hurling league semi final between Limerick and Kilkenny. Some Growers were also sighted running around and taking a dip in the lake.

On Saturday evening there was a sumptuous gala dinner in a finely decorated ballroom and this was followed by some lively traditional music which prompted the more adventurous to get up for a dance. As the night wore on, many more Grow members enjoyed a dance and some members, including Ned from Limerick and Michael from Cork, performed a few pieces to give the two man band a break.

After a leisurely start on Sunday morning, Siobhan from one of the Limerick groups confidently told her story and that was greeted with delightful support from the Growers in attendance.  The morning was wrapped up with a Laughter Yoga workshop by Susan Dennehy.  This was initially greeted with much trepidation by many of the Grow members present, but the room was soon filled with a bunch of adults wandering around making an assortment of silly movements and sounds and culminating in much contagious laughter.  After a fine lunch, with a splendid dessert, Growers headed off, sad to see the weekend over but refreshed and energised nevertheless.

The feedback from the weekend was overwhelmingly positive with all Growers expressing deep gratitude to the friendly and helpful staff members present who ensured that everything ran smoothly. So much thanks to Mary Purcell and her team onsite: Jerry Cronin, Noreen O'Sullivan, Joan Diffley, Celia Brett & Danielle Londra.

(Top Left) Grow Midwestern Team members Joan Diffley and Danielle Londra. (TopRight) Caitriona from the Kantruk Grow Group created and donated these marvelous balloons and gave her story to the members gathered for the weekend. (Bottom Left) Brian Hurley, guest speaker generously shared his successes and how he met each new challenge that entered his life. (Middle Right): Siobhan, Limerick Grow Group Member also shared her journey with Grow and mental heath challenges over the years. (Bottom Right) The house band had toes tapping and Growers twirling the night away on Saturday evening.

By Rob Stephen, Grow Group Member, Midwestern Region

The Great Limerick Run takes place on Sunday 5th May and Grow is once again delighted to be providing a base for the award winning Sanctuary Runners movement.  In 2019, 2022 and 2023 a large number of Sanctuary Runners from all over Ireland used Grow's Limerick premises, 33 Henry Street, as a meetup point before and after the Great Limerick Run event. The core Sanctuary Runner values are solidarity, friendship and respect and the group uses running/walking groups as a means to facilitate integration between different cultures. We wish everyone taking part a safe and enjoyable event.

By Marie Gilligan, Grow Area Coordinator, Northwestern Region

Junior cert home economics pupils at Sligo Grammar School, along with their teacher Ms Rebecca Harney, hosted a cake sale to benefit men's mental health in Sligo/Leitrim, with Grow being their chosen charity.

During this busy year they took time out and raised a total amount of €302.85. Grow Mental Health would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for this kind donation which will make a significant difference in the lives of men who are facing mental health challenges.

We extend our best wishes to these and all students who will be sitting their exams shortly.

* New Group* Cork City Monday Evening Support Group 6.30 PM

 WHEN: Mondays 6.30pm – 8.30pm (except Bank Holidays). In-person meeting.
WHERE:  at The Next Step Building at 22 Sullivan’s Quay, Cork T12 PH6N.
*Wilton Cork Tuesday Afternoon Group  *Online Group returning F2F
WHEN:  Tuesdays 2.00pm – 4pm     In-person meeting
WHERE:  SMA Community Centre (Room 4), Wilton, Cork. T12 AX94
For more information please contact Area Co-ordinator, Finola O’Callaghan 086-7702807
James Flynn, our IT Officer will be leaving Grow Mental Health at the end of April. James took on the position as a new role when he joined back in 2022. We have all enjoyed his learning sessions on Teams on Wednesday mornings and the support he has provided, our IT systems and processes are in much better shape as a result of his work. James - we wish you well with your exciting venture, every success. Stephen Geary will  step up for a period of time to cover the transition and we thank Stephen for this.

We are currently seeking a Digital Services Supervisor, interim for nine months, part time (20 hours/week), working remotely, or from a Grow Office if located nearby. Closing date for applications is Sunday 21st of April 2024. The purpose of the role is to supervise our current digital services. We are seeking an analytical individual who can utilise management information to report on our services and performance. To learn more, click here.

April 7th - World Health Day
April 14th - International Moment of Laughter Day
April 15th - World Art Day
April 21st - International Creativity and Innovation Day

April 22nd - Earth Day
April 23rd - World Book Day
April 28th - World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Open to all staff members. (Attendance to be on your own time) weekly on Mondays @ 2 PM Contact Mary Walsh for the link: [email protected]


Online Grow Group meeting every Friday at 2 PM for any Grow member who might have missed their weekly Group, is looking for some extra support between meetings, or would like to offer support to others. Contact Felicia: [email protected]

Meetings take place online on Tuesdays between 10:30 AM and 12 PM. Click here for more details.

Our Caring and Sharing Online Coffee Morning is open to anyone in the Grow Community and meets online on the LAST MONDAY of every month. Contact [email protected] for details. Why not come along and share with other Grow members and staff in a casual, friendly setting?
Stay up to date with Grow by subscribing to our social media channels at the links below.

Grow in Ireland
Registered Charity Number: 200223294
33 Henry Street, Limerick, Ireland
Information Line: 0 818 474 474
Find a Grow Group Near You
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