Grow Mental Health- August Newsletter


August 2020

A Letter from the CEO of

Grow Mental Health,

Michele Kerrigan

The past few months have been paved with hurdles and triumphs, both for each of us individually and Grow as a whole. When the Covid-19 pandemic descended on our communities, there was no easy way to ask someone who has never been acquainted with the internet to make it their most valued ally. But, with the encouragement of staff throughout the country, the connection continued. Once so comfortable shaking hands and pulling up chairs beside one another, our new normal quickly became locking eyes through a computer screen.

To our amazement, the willingness to reach out to Grow was stronger than the fear of change and the majority of members continued to meet on the new platform of Zoom. There was also a significant surge of interest from people seeking to join Grow for the first time in an online capacity. Of course, for many reasons, not everyone has been able to grab onto this new virtual life-line and our AC’s are doing their very best to keep contact with these valued members via telephone. Work to improve all of our new endeavors is continuous, but there is no doubt that Grow is growing every day with each new lesson learned.

Perhaps what we have learned most of all is that there are no certainties in this pandemic, as with life in general. Although we are planning to return to face-to-face meetings as soon as it is safe to do so, we cannot guarantee when or how this will happen. We are currently undertaking intensive training and preparation, but there are a multitude of factors that could lead to our return being delayed – from the unsuitability of venues to the resurgence of the virus itself. A physical review needs to take place to ensure venue sizes are adequate and we also have to be aware of the rules and restrictions that venues may impose on us, as we have a considerable number of rented premises. To ensure the health of our members is protected, staff must be mindful of the myriad of risks associated with meeting in person and take all of the necessary health and safety steps to protect themselves and others. It will be a challenge for all, but one that we are taking on with great determination and patience for the well being of all our members.

Throughout this time of uncertainty, we must continue to keep our core mission of mental health support stable and secure, while accommodating every twist and turn and change of plan that this health crisis brings. I congratulate all of our staff on their relentless dedication to the care of our Growers. When the daunting task of going online lay before them, our staff rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, providing us with a new pathway to reach our Growers and a victory we can always be proud of. I wish all members the best in life and love and happiness during this difficult time and suggest that the Grow program could be an anchor for all of us when things get shaky. Let us not forget that, ‘The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.’

Yours Sincerely,


Grow’s Virtual Mini Marathon

The lockdown has linked many of us back with our legs, as more and more people have put on runners and set off on a fitness journey. In the spirit of this, Grow Mental Health will be hosting its annual Mini Marathon, but this time we will cheer each other on online.

From October 1st to October 10th (World Mental Health Day), Growers and supporters will raise €100 each by running a 10K their own way. Whether taking on the challenge alone or with friends, participants can chose to run wherever they like- be it in the garden, around the estate or in a nearby park. Participants will time themselves- some may opt for 1k a day, others may take on the full 10K in one go, but all will be capturing their challenge online and raising money for Grow.

Area Coordinators are encouraged to recommend Grow’s Virtual Mini Marathon as a 12th Step activity or a weekly task, as it embraces many of the stages of recovery and growth, from Step 7: ‘We took care and control of our bodies’ to Step 12: ‘We carried Grow’s message to others in need.’

In photo: Josephine and friends supporting Grow in Donegal.

To take part:
1. See
2. Select Grow In Ireland as your chosen charity
3. Get training and have fun!

.Register today to receive your Vhi fundraising pack with T-shirt, race number etc. 

Community Updates

Eastern Region
An creative gathering of 23 members from various groups in the Eastern Region was organised last May. It consisted of a Friday evening of music and poetry, organized by Izabela Morris, fantastically led by John Farren and supported by Clodagh Erasmus. The event connected and entertained Growers through the Zoom platform. Thanks to the technology, members were able to actively participate and contribute by singing and playing music and reciting poetry. Everybody enjoyed the gathering and agreed that there was so much talent in GROW. Despite the restrictions caused by Covid 19, the message of hope was delivered to many homes and lifted many hearts.
This was followed by another enjoyable 12th Step gathering Friday evening in the Eastern region in June. A Quiz via the Zoom platform was prepared by Clodagh Erasmus and brought lots of banter and laughter. Members got together and joined their forces in four teams: red, blue, green and yellow. John Farren, the MC for the evening, ran four rounds and scores were counted by Izabela Morris. Team blue and green became joint winners and won a prize that will be delivered them when the Covid 19 restrictions are removed and Growers are back to their groups.
A Caring and Sharing Storytelling and Book Review 12th step evening in July was enjoyed and greatly received by members of the Eastern Region. Growers and staff members lined up with their stories and book reviews, however the evening unfold growing confidence and everybody participated with telling a story. Clodagh, John and Izabela are due to organize another story telling evening in August due to a demand.
There were also two O&R meetings in the Eastern Region – one in April and one in June. The next one is planned for September.

Community Education
Clodagh Erasmus, Grow’s Health & Wellness Community Education Officer, has just completed two Community Education Programmes, the first was a closed programme with Community Response in Dublin 8. The second was in conjunction with Southside Partnership – Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Social Prescribing Team, it was a very successful course with over 15 participants.
On Tuesday, July 7th, John Farren delivered a great talk on Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health, Clodagh Erasmus delivered the following two weeks presentations on Managing Stress & Anxiety (Tuesday, 14th July) and Building Resilience Through Sleep & Nutrition on Tuesday 21st July. The final week was Tuesday, 28th July with a very relaxing and engaging talk by Izabela Morris on Mindfulness.
This CEP was one of the first which they have run online and it proved very successful with participants giving them very positive feedback on how it has given them new coping tools and strategies to keep going through the uncertain times we find ourselves in.

Midlands Region
GROW in Ireland Midlands Region would like to extend sincere thanks and best wishes to Louise Smith for her hard work and dedication to the GROW Program in Westmeath over the past two years. Louise departs GROW at the end of July and we would like to wish her every success in her future career.

I will give myself positive messages

By Maria

I will befriend myself by ceasing to create my own anxieties. What are those inner voices that constantly stir up pain and fear? Those are left-over, critical voices from my past that told me I was a bad, worthless person.

Perhaps the last hold-out to my recovery is facing my shame. Shame is like a hidden monster in the closet that pops out when I least expect it. The messages that hit right at my core originate in my shamefulness. The journey through shame requires me to turn these inner thoughts outward. I recognize shame when I feel it and substitute these negative voices with positive affirmations.

Today I begin a new phase of my recovery, as I realize that some of the anxiety I feel is self-induced shame. I have the courage to treat myself with kindness and let old wounds heal. Today I see that I can carefully examine the rules I live by and that I have the power to change them if I want, to promote my recovery. Am I still living unconsciously by rules that no longer fit me? In my illness there were many rules that were incongruent and unrealistic.

Today I will look at my rules about love, money, friends, decisions and emotions. Which rules are my choices and, which rules have I unconsciously adopted? I have the ability to decide which rules work for me and discard those that do not. The Affirmation of Good is a perfect passage to help with the above piece. It reminds me that I am indeed, “neither wholly good nor wholly bad”.

I am learning that I am like all humans, a mixture of good and bad. It is such an important lesson, for it is in the blanket condemnation of myself that I become smothered by depression.

Oola GAA Club Supports Grow

A triumphant tribute to Grow was undertaken by Mary Purcell’s local club in Limerick on June 1st. Oola GAA Healthy Club Team organised a virtual walk/run/cycle to Croke Park and back in aid of Grow Mental Health Recovery and Circle of Friends Cancer Support. Launched on May 25th, the club set up a Go Fund Me page and began securing donations for both charities.

From all at Grow, we extend a heartfelt thank you to all who made this enormous effort with Grow in mind. If you or any of your members have a link to their local GAA clubs, or another local club, and think they would be open to running something similar in the future we would love the support and can supply the logo or anything else they might need.

Part-time Area Coordinator position available

Grow Mental Health is a peer support, community based Mental Health Organisation. We wish to appoint a Part Time Area Coordinator (21 hours) to support Grow groups in the Midwest Region, focusing on Limerick City and County, North Tipperary and Clare.
The candidate will combine excellent facilitation skills, leadership, planning, organisational, promotional, communication and IT skills with the capacity to deliver the Grow Program. To apply: Please submit a cover letter and C.V. to: Cliona Tynan, HR Administrator, Grow in Ireland, C/O [email protected] Closing date: Sunday, 9th August 2020 at midnight. Interviews to be held in Limerick on 25th August 2020.

Systems Over

By Alan Keaveney
I cannot hear the heart beating as one.

The soul is hoarse from shouting, the spirit evicted for being a poor tenant.

My eyes strained from casting a cold eye on life, on death, on everything.

Only when I hear the ticking will I know when to run and when to hesitate and let the train pass by.

The body prefers a slow ebb and flow to a continuous tortuous tremor.

Be gone, the babble of voices discussing the irrelevant.

Be gone, the clenched fist and the strained temple.

Be gone, the post-fix justification, the stepping out into darkness and waiting ‘til daylight to see if there are any footprints.

Be gone, the negative comments.

Be gone, the loose ends.

Bingo Night in Aid of Grow

On Friday, July 24th, Growers and friends from around the country logged on Zoom to take part in Bingo Night in aid of Grow Mental Health. Hosted by Phil McAvoy of Jackpotts Bingo, the charity’s first ever attempt at virtual bingo was a roaring success, with children, elderly and everyone in between doing their very best to win the cash prizes on offer on the night.
Thanks to the wonderful work of Fundraising Officer, Síle Tracey, the event went off without a hitch and has inspired many more online events to come.
The Bingo Night was Grow’s response to the current restrictions due to the Covid 19 pandemic, which has made it impossible to meet in large groups in person. With this in mind, other ways of interacting and having fun are being considered in an effort to ease the isolation and boost the moral of all our members.
Of course, it is always an added bonus when these activities can raise much-needed funds for Grow Mental Health and we are grateful to all who bought tickets on the night. Thanks also to Phil McAvoy for giving up his free time to lead the fun and games.

Strange Times

By Ted Knocklyon

“Strange Times”… So many mails and articles and even verbal greetings start or end with these two words. A huge amount of people who heretofore never saw themselves as having anxiety problems are now being wound tight as a wrung dishcloth by it. So many huge stressors are stalking among us – domestic confinement, loss of income, fear of the immediate future. And for many a fear of other human beings.

Imagine. A fear of every one. Of every surface. Of even the air. Each us can double or treble the items on the above stressor list that afflict us, or our families, or our communities. It feels as if masses and masses of people have suddenly tuned in to a radio frequency I’ve been hearing for the majority of my life. It’s called Radio Catastrophe. Its broadcasts are always aimed specifically at me. Explaining how dreadful things are and relentlessly telling me how useless / failing / unworthy I am. And the guy giving the broadcast is always me. It’s always my voice. Yep, the show today, all day, is “Melt De Head with Mental Ted”.

Most or all of us in GROW are familiar with this. Most or all people in society are too. But heretofore maybe they didn’t tune in so often, or at this super-loud volume. But today it is blaring across the minds of so many people. Ruining their sleep, slicing their nerves, making them more volatile than usual. In my past, I was unwell enough to need Pieta House. My walk through life has been dogged by Fear and Self Blame as long as I can remember. This can help me with those who are in great pain now. If I can understand, I can empathise more easily. And I can help: I can say a nice thing, or do a helpful thing, or just smile and say hello (from the appropriate distance…) Or, most simply, I can help by not adding more logs to the bonfire consuming their psyches. I can regard this period as The Greatest Catastrophe Ever – or I can see it as a chance to be of use. And if I am of use, I silence the embedded voice in my soul that says, always, “you are useless.” And if I show compassion to other creatures, in a way I am being compassionate to myself. If I help others, I help myself.

Tesco makes a generous donation to Grow

The continued compassion of Tesco and their customers has led to a substantial donation to Grow Mental Health.

Through the Tesco Community Fund, a number of stores have chosen to invest in the ongoing support work that GROW provides to vulnerable and isolated people throughout the country.

With a significant spike in the demand for Grow’s support group services throughout the Covid 19 pandemic in recent months, the generous donation could not have come at a better time.

“Tesco continues to support charities through these difficult times and Grow Mental Health is only one of many. We are eternally grateful to Tesco Ireland for the honourable work they do within communities,” said Michele Kerrigan, CEO of Grow Mental Health, “On behalf of all at Grow I would like to extend special thanks to Lisa McEvoy, Tesco Area Community Champion in Ballbriggan, for all her assistance and support.”


Confidence consists in being able to find and build on the good which is more important than the particular evil which is undermining or threatening us.

Confidence is the other side of acceptance, the victorious side which makes acceptance possible and growthful. It is an attitude of mind built on grounds, that is reliable causes. It is independent, not only of favorable feelings, but also favorable circumstances.

-From Acceptance and Confidence, Blue Book

Powerful Podcasts


The outbreak of the Coroanvirus pulled the rug from under our lives. Routines were broken, comforts were taken away and time opened up like a rare flower for many who had resigned themselves to having none. Daily doses of anxiety-inducing news and unsettling statistics became the new normal, as we tried to weather the storm that, at times, felt never-ending.

To act like a loving lighthouse throughout this turbulent time of adjustment, GROW Mental Health launched a six-week initiative to help ‘Create Hope and Stay Positive’ in the face of Covid-19. Six podcasts on six separate topics were curated by Síle Tracey, Grow’s Fundraising Officer.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the six’-week Covid 19 Initiative, which ran from the end of March until early May this year. The feedback from members, staff and external listeners was so positive,” said Síle, “There was a huge amount of work done behind the scenes and I would like to thank Colette Flannery, Louise Carroll, Eunan Whyte and Caroline Crotty without you all the quality of content could not have been achieved.

“I would also like to thank everyone who gave up their time to contribute to the live recordings. Your stories, experience and words of wisdom brought us together at a very challenging time. I look forward to our next series of podcasts.”

Topics included: Facing and Accepting the Challenge of Covid 19 with Louise Carroll, Gerry Farrell, Darragh O’Brien and Keith Snowe, Connecting in Isolation with Jerry Cronin, Chris Fitzgerald and Christina O’Neill, Maintaining a Positive Outlook with Caroline Crotty and John Lonergan, Creating Hope for Each Other with Mike Watts, Self Care and the Importance of Setting Challenge with Emily G and Andy McC and Dealing with Anxiety with Mary Purcell, Jacki Hehir and Ned Hannon.

To listen back to these powerful podcasts see

Prepare for your walk

Whether you’re doing the Sacred Heart half-marathon or the three-day walk this fall, we’ve got tips on shoes, supplies, hydration and more.

Prepare for your walk

Whether you’re doing the Sacred Heart half-marathon or the three-day walk this fall, we’ve got tips on shoes, supplies, hydration and more.



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