January 2024 Newsletter – Be the Change You Want to See

January 2024 Newsletter:
A Look Back and Being the Change We Want To See
As we look back at some of the highlights of 2023, we are humbled by the warmth, commitment, and activism of our caring and sharing community.  A year of giving and growth was capped off with a holiday season of support. Thank you to every one of you who shared your story, extended the hand of friendship, and helped to share Grow's message of hope and recovery with those who needed to hear it. 

We kick off 2024 with a look at how we can each continue to model the change that we hope to see in the world around us. Only by changing what we can about our own lives can we find a clearer path to peace, hope, and contentment.  We would love you hear from you about the changes you would like to make today.
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This past year was filled with so many moments of caring, sharing, joy, support, and connection. There were too many to put into one video but click on the image above to enjoy some of the highlights that were captured throughout 2023. Thank you to everyone who made the last year a banner one for Grow Mental Health and happy new year to all of our subscribers.


As 2023 came to a close, we were overwhelmed with the generosity and creativity of people across Ireland who fundraised almost €15,000 for Grow Mental Health. What a way to end the year!

For the second year in a row, Grow groups in Limerick, Cork and Dublin caroled at bus stations to raise cash for their regional groups. Once again, we received donations from Bus Éireann/Expressway for each performance and the carolers collected contributions from those enjoying the holiday cheer. A special highlight to this year's line-up was the children of Sacred Heart National School Caroling for our cause at The Square in Tallaght. We raised over €3,000 in December through the Grow carolers. 


The Mindful Joggers, a student-run charity with a focus on men's mental health, completed a 100K jogging challenge over two months and raised over €600 for Grow.

On December 1st, Grow was the chosen beneficiary for a charity soccer tournament that took place in Mullingar. Local businesses fielded teams and the event raised nearly €1,500 for Grow.

On Christmas morning, Killian Andersen ran 50k in Naas to raise funds for Grow and awareness around the stress that many of us feel at the holidays. Killian was joined by lots of folks including Grow members along the way who wanted to support him and start their day with some exercise and fresh air. Killian's campaign raised a whopping €5,000 for Grow.

Gracie Mahady, a Dublin-based yoga and meditation instructor, ran a fundraiser through her Instagram profile over the holidays. In her words: “My dad recently died and he struggled with severe mental health struggles for about twenty years. The only thing I can do is try to help someone else so they don't suffer like my family has. Hopefully, this helps you.”  Grace raised a massive €420 through the generosity of her followers. 

Corporate Social Responsibility was in full force during the Christmas Season as well. Maples Financial Services and Peter O'Brien Landscaping both made extremely generous donations of €1,000 to Grow just before the New Year.

On December 30th, the Mullingar Rugby Club a Memorial Cup Tournament was organised by Alison Costello in aid of several local mental health charities. Alison included Grow as well as Aware, Pieta, Jigsaw, and SOSAD. Sadly, Alison lost her partner Robbie to suicide in August and she organised this wonderful event in his memory. It was greatly supported on the day. Regional Administrator Patricia Steinegger represented Grow along with Maria Crowley who is a Grower and member of the Midlands Regional Team. The event raised over €8,000 and Grow received €1,650.


Added to various other campaigns and individual gifts, Grow received nearly €15,000 in charitable donations over the Christmas period.

THANK YOU! Every one of you who contributed to, conceived of, and supported a fundraising campaign in the last two months should give yourself a well-earned pat on the back. To anyone who was able to click our donation button and share your resources with us during the holidays, thank you. These funds will go toward supporting our existing groups and starting new one in areas where a need has been identified.  Each fundraising event and individual donation, big or small, brings us closer to achieving our vision of an Ireland where no one needs to navigate mental health challenges or life’s struggles alone.

By John Madden, Grow Area Coordinator, Midlands Region

The excess is over, the comedown is real and of course, the questions abound around your New Year's resolutions. Maybe by the time you read this, we’ll have passed “Quitter’s Day”, which is generally the second Friday of January. But hey, our intentions were great but are the intentions too grand to make a reality?

Often we set our sights on something that’s more than likely unachievable like giving up smoking. But January is boring and dull and those of us with the cravings don’t have anything to replace it.

Losing weight – easier said than done and the “get up and go” has all but disappeared. Why would anybody want to leave the house after a day’s work and take a walk or run in the cold, dark, and most likely wet and windy evenings of January?

None of this is to say we shouldn’t try but why set ourselves up for failure? If we set the goals too high and we don’t see notable change, we often give up. By breaking the goals down into easier-to-achieve milestones, we might avoid this cycle of perceived failure. The target might be something like “I want to run the Dublin City Marathon”. If so, it's not likely that you will achieve this level of fitness in January or February. So why not set yourself smaller stepping stones? How about “By the end of January, I’d like to be able to walk/run 5km without losing my breath”, and then, “By the end of February, I’d like to be up to 8km”. It’s a lot more achievable than setting yourself a huge challenge of running 26km too soon.

Try the same with smoking, cold turkey and patches might work for some but for others, maybe cut back little by little, all the while thinking, maybe by May I’d like to be off them entirely. The same applies to weight loss or gain. Small steps, and celebrate each successful milestone along the way.

Doing too much too soon rarely yields results. Be gentle with yourself. You won’t make progress all the time. If it were that easy, everybody would be doing the same. Plan it, monitor it, and if it’s not working, review it. Think of it as self-leadership, and just because others who are doing the same might prevail and be perceptibly more successful than you have been, so what!? Who are you doing it for - them or you?

Enjoy 2024, brighter days are coming. You deserve the very best!

By Finola O'Callaghan, Grow Area Coordinator, Southern Region

The Mayfield Integrated Community Development Project ran a jam-packed, informative ‘Winter Self Care’ day at their premises in Mayfield, Cork, on 13th December 2023. The objective of the day was to provide practical and useful tips to help to gain and maintain positive mental wellbeing over the winter period for residents of the Mayfield and surrounding community. The day involved a range of activities which included Singing for the Brain and discussion on the benefits of music to our lives and mental health, drumming, chair yoga, hand massage and aromatherapy, and a sensory garden plot session.

HSE Clinical Psychologist, Rosarie Crowley, gave an interesting and informative talk on winter-proofing our mental health over the long winter months and Southern Region Area Co-ordinator Finola O’Callaghan gave a presentation on Grow Mental Health supports.

As always, so much of what was discussed and espoused was in keeping with the Grow program:

- Avoid Isolation – how important that it is to keep in contact with other people throughout the long winter months – to get involved and engaged with activities in the local community and build up links
- Emphasize what is, not what isn’t – the importance of developing a positive mindset and developing Gratitude.
- Developing our Personal Value and Self-Esteem

The day finished off with mulled wine (alcohol-free of course!) and a healthy choice of Christmas snacks to offset the indulgence of the coming Christmas period. Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback by participants on the day, the Winter Self-Care Day will now become an annual event at the Mayfield CDP.

The Mayfield Integrated Community Development project offers a range of services, activities, and courses within the community which are mostly free of charge. For further information www.mayfieldcdp.ie

Grow Area Coordinator Finola O'Callaghan at the Mayfield CDP Winter Self-Care Day in December 2023


December saw not one, but two new episodes of the Grow Mental Health Podcast. Jenny sat down with Jonathan who is a longtime Grow Member, Regional Board Member in the East, editor of the Easter Region Quarterly Newsletter, and dedicated creator of countless articles for the Grow National Newsletter. They discussed Inner Peace and where we can (and can't!) find that peace of mind that can sustain us through even the worst of times. Jonathan shared the techniques he's collected over the years as well as his own story of mental health. They talk about meditation, getting into nature, turning off devices, and tapping into our inner creativity among other things. This episode is not only engaging on a deep level but also a tool for living.

Next, Jenny met Killian and Celia to chat about how we can support ourselves through the holiday season when stressors like family time, over-indulgence, lack of routine, and sometimes loneliness kick in. Killian heard about Grow Mental Health when looking for a community mental health charity to support at Christmas. Once he read about our free peer-support groups 

and spoke to a Grow Group member about their experience, he knew he wanted to help. Killian ran a sponsored 50K on Christmas Day and was joined by folks along the way who wanted to show support and get some exercise and fresh air ahead of the festivities. Killian shares his journey online and takes every opportunity to highlight the connections between our mental wellness and time spent in nature and taking care of our bodies.

Celia is an Grow Area Coordinator in Limerick and Tipperary and is also a practicing psychotherapist. Celia stressed the importance of finding time for ourselves over the holidays as well as sticking to our routines whenever possible. Whether through journaling, exercise, or getting some fresh air, Celia noted the importance of finding a way to clear your head when things might be stressful. 

Thank you to Jonathan, Celia and Killian, and all of our guests throughout 2023. We are looking forward to another great year of podcasts in 2024.


By John Madden, Grow Area Coordinator, Midlands Region

Different settings, different faces but guess what? Stress is the same. Whether it was delivering to County Council Chambers, The Irish Prison Services, tech companies, or even students in further education, the responses were often the same. The stresses espoused were keeping up with the pressures of life,

time constraints, relationships, and work; all of which were commonly held issues regardless of age, gender, profession, or resources. Over the year, the Midlands team, comprised of Grow Area Coordinators, Assumpta Lyons, John Madden, and Michelle McCormick delivered stress management workshops in their areas to gently packed rooms filled with people from all backgrounds. The workshops were very well-received. There are no magical outcomes to the stress management workshops but what is becoming more apparent as we deliver more and more of these, is that almost everybody knows what they are doing wrong, understands the necessity to change, and constantly beat themselves up because they don’t change their habits. We are reminded that life, no matter the era, has always been stressful but the stressors change. If the participants of the workshops take one thing away, it is this, they are not alone. Most of us are like ducks, bobbing along against an upstream current; on the surface, we often appear to be fine, getting where we need to be but what others do not see is the frantic paddling beneath the surface of the water. The idea around the workshop is to make people alert to their stress and also to be alert to the needs of others, even if they are looking like they are going upriver without impediment.

The Midlands Team looks back fondly on the opportunities to deliver the workshop over 2023 and will be doing more next year, so if you’re service or organisation might benefit from our offering why not reach out to Grow Mental Health and let’s see what we can do for you in 2024. In closing, we borrow words from the indomitable, Maya Angelou; When we know better, we do better. Never was a truer sentiment said. Mental health can be a tough business, but, it is everyone’s business.
Welcome to Stephen Geary who is going to cover the role of Data Officer Monitoring, Reporting & Evaluation as Lindsey O'Donoghue goes on her maternity leave towards the end of the month. We wish Lindsay the very best. 

Welcome also to Fiona Hughes who is the new Administrator for the  South East region. Best of luck in the new role, Fiona.

January 1st - New Year's Day
January 2nd - World Introvert Day
January 3rd -  International Mind Body Wellness Day
January 6th - Nollaig na mBan

January 15th - World Religion Day
January 24th - International Day of Education

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?
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Information Line: 0 818 474 474
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