September 2023 Newsletter – Creativity

Creativity! We often stand in awe of a painting that speaks to our souls. A beautiful poem can bring us to tears. We see ourselves in the songs and plays of great artists. But how often do we tell ourselves that we could never be that creative? That we just don't have the creative talent that others possess? This month we are talking about creativity and our mental health. Creative efforts do not have to result in masterpieces. In fact, they don't have to be for anyone but ourselves. But when we put pen to paper, brush to canvas, fingers to clay, or unleash our imaginations we can tap into the places and feelings that elude us otherwise. Often the peace and mindfulness that come with creative endeavours give us the space we need to And sometimes being, instead of doing, is where the healing begins. How do you find your creative spark? What does it feel like when you lose yourself in something creative?

As always, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us on our social media platforms and by email [email protected]

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Annabel O'Keeffe and I'm delighted to announce that I have been appointed interim CEO of Grow Mental Health. I consider it a great privilege and am looking forward to working with all of you. My background is in advertising, 

fundraising, and general management of not-for-profit organisations. My latest role has been General Manager at Look Good Feel Better, a cancer charity. I feel honoured to have been part of the Grow Mental Health board and, for a short time, as Chairperson.

Being part of Grow Mental Health has changed my life. I attend a group on Friday evenings online where I find safety, kindness, a sense of community, and genuine love. I have attended National Weekends and days away with Grow both of which have been the highlights of my year.

I look forward to getting to know you all in October at the National weekend and I hope as many people as possible will be able to come.

I would like to wish Michele the best for the future and thank her for all of her hard work in making this organisation what it is today. I'd like to thank you all for an already warm welcome and for everything you do to get us closer to bringing the Grow Mental Health vision to life.

Kind Regards,

    by Jonathan, Grow Member in the Eastern Region
We have a God-like power. We can CREATE. We are creators. In the far distant past, we stole fire from the Gods. We chipped stone to make blades and spear tips. With simple lamps of burning fat, we crawled into the recesses of caves and on the cavern walls we painted bison, horses, and stags with clay pigments. We can only wonder. Were these paintings of spiritual significance? The artists went to a lot of trouble. We can agree this art expresses something important to our ancestors.

Creating art - whether painting, music, or writing - engages our imagination which taps into our unconsciousness, and some may say our collective unconsciousness. The mysteries of our human psyche and the patterns and laws of creation are tapped into and brought to light.

Our creation will reflect our inner world at that time. It will express our joys, fears, pain, despair, hope, and aspirations. The creation often, though half hidden, reveals a path or key to a new state of being that the artist may not have even been conscious of when they began the creation. It is a common experience for people to find a way forward in their lives inspired by the lyrics of music or the actions of a protagonist in a book or film.

The piece of art can go on revealing new meaning over time and reflection to the artist and to those appreciating the artwork. The process of creating can be cathartic for the artist. Deep emotions and psychic energies are expressed and released. The artwork can have the same cathartic effect on those appreciating the work. This release of emotion is healing. Who has not cried when listening to music or watching a moving film? Sadness, horror, humour, and compassion are among the many emotions that can be created and experienced.

The artist in the process of creating leaves this grey everyday world and enters into a hidden world of renewing energies and ethereal truths and brings these rejuvenating symbols back to our everyday life, revitalising and renewing our tired existence. Re-greening our wonder. Often when we read a favourite book it can re-enchant our view of life.

To the person experiencing and appreciating the art, the art becomes a mirror. There we see our flaws, our fears, our potential, our divinity. One of the most powerful healings is to realise, Ah Yes...This Is Me!


Artist Juliia Polischuk

Artist, Juliia Polschuk, translation by John Madden, Grow Area Coordinator in the Midlands Region

Juliia Polischuk arrived in Athlone not too long after the outbreak of war in Ukraine with her children, and since then has been actively involved in providing art interventions for others who have been displaced and doing her best to assist and improve those who are struggling and facing challenges of being far from home. For now, she is "home" with us in Ireland. Juliia is an active supporter and ally of Grow Mental Health.

Note from the artist:
Creativity is a great way of self-discovery, a better understanding of one's thoughts and feelings.
For psychological health, creativity is seen as the creation of something new, the mastery of self-discovery, and the ability to rely on oneself through art and creativity. When we immerse ourselves in the process of creation, we forget about everything for a while and completely devote ourselves to work on a creative project. It helps us to focus on ourselves, our thoughts, and our feelings, which is a necessary condition for self-knowledge. For example, drawing can help you experience some form of inner peace, reduce stress levels, and improve your mood. Creativity can help a person discover and express his or her ideas and experiences, and increase self-knowledge and self-esteem. It can have a positive effect on well-being and help heal emotional wounds, achieve relaxation.

Another important aspect of the connection between creativity and self-discovery is experimentation and mastering of new skills. Each experiment helps us better understand what we like, what inspires us, and what brings us pleasure. It can be painting, writing, music, sculpture, knitting, embroidery, dance, creating collages, graphics or even cooking. Be open-minded. Don't be afraid to try new techniques or ideas. Any type of creative activity clears the mind of stress and everyday negativity.

Creativity is a unique path to self-discovery and revealing one's potential. By practicing creativity, we can better understand ourselves and develop our personality. Thanks to creativity, there is social interaction with other people. A new circle of communication appears. Communities are formed in which you can get support from other people. Creativity helps to develop intelligence in all directions.

In any case, creativity can become a source of pleasure, and provide a sense of self-realization and self-expression, which in turn can help strengthen the psychological state and improve the quality of life. It is important to simply give yourself permission to be creative and enjoy the process of creation.

By Noirin, Grow Member in the Midwestern Region

Little did Father Con Keogh realise that 66 years after setting up Grow in Australia, he would leave such a legacy behind. Not only is Grow widespread in Ireland but worldwide.

What does Grow mean to me?

It gives structure to my week and also there is such comradery with my Grow family. They get me. They also have lived experience. Because of this, they are empathetic and they don’t judge me.

Grow is a safe haven to talk about your well-being. There is a confidentiality clause – what is said in Grow stays in Grow! There is also the social aspect, going for lunch after the meeting, looking forward to a barbeque, and the National Weekend in October.

I have to say this, PJ is the most conscientious Organiser that Grow ever had. Grow’s meetings are never the same. Yes, there is structure, but every meeting is different. The Growers talk about their week and get advice from other Growers - a problem shared is a problem halved. I know I have often had the weight of the world on my shoulders but have left the meeting lighter and in greater spirits.

You alone can do it but you cannot do it alone.

You are given a step to work on from the 12 Steps of recovery and growth and also a piece for understanding. There is also the Wednesday What’sApp so we can stay connected with each other.

A friend is as far as the nearest phone.

You are given a task to do daily – mine is to take my two dogs down by the river. There are times when I don’t feel like going but I compel my muscles and limbs to act rightly in spite of my feelings.

What I would say to new people is to keep coming back. I have seen Growers being in the depths of depression and suffering from severe anxiety. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I have been there in the depths of depression. I came through it into the light and that is what Grow has done for me. I have seen people blossom in Grow - people who hadn’t any hope – are now helping others on to recovery and growth.

You can do it but you cannot do it alone.

We have lived experience and we help each other.

There is also an opportunity to do other things in the Grow building – meditation, creative writing, etc., etc.…

All I can say is thank God, Fr. Con Keogh had the foresight to set up Grow.

  by John Madden, Grow Area Coordinator, the Midlands Region

We all do it. Some of us have a good handle on it but it still creeps in from time to time. I am talking about catastrophizing. A lovely word that sums up our thought process on occasion but like so many things, it has different extremes. First and foremost, what is it? Catastrophe is, of course, the worst-case scenario, devastation, a disaster. So catastrophizing is our uncanny ability to think that the worst possible outcome will happen or is highly likely to happen. 

As I initially said, we all do it. Most, if not all of us. If taking a flight tomorrow you will for at least one split second worry, what if the plane crashes? These thoughts for most are fleeting but for others they are a common, everyday sensation. It keeps us up at night as we worry about everything that could go wrong tomorrow. This lends itself to heightened anxieties and paranoia, and we know only too well where that can lead if we let it take over.

We often tend to be uber-creative with these ideas. It’s like the brain wants to torture us with manufactured outcomes at times but worse again, it might even prevent us from reaching out for help because we are also fearful of being judged. Take for example a recent conversation had with a friend. Let’s call him Michael. Michael was in what he called, “a rut”, but a rut that he couldn’t shake. It was one that lasted longer than others, so much so that I had to seek him out as opposed to seeing him out and about. During our chat, he espoused a few red flags that implied depression might be overtaking him. He was aware of it yet was worried about help-seeking. I asked why, and his response was – "I don’t want to tell the boss at work in case he gives me special treatment and time off". I quickly retorted, “Why, that actually sounds like the exact correct thing to do”. His response – “The boss is sound and he knows the craic with mental health stuff but if he gives me the time off, everybody else will be asking questions and I don’t want them knowing my business. I love working there but the last thing I want is to feel awkward or to be talked about. I’d sooner leave the job than be given that kind of attention. And if I do that, I’ll have no job and that’d ruin life for myself and my family”. Now, bear in mind that he only opened up a little about his depression challenges but in his own overly-creative mind, he’s potentially out of work and on the road to ruin. That, to me, is catastrophizing - the worst-case scenario - and while having that way of thinking can be crippling, it also stops us from reaching out for help at times.

Reminder: none of us have a working crystal ball, otherwise there’d be far more Lotto winners every week. How can we reduce the tendency to catastrophise?

1. Maintain your relationships, connection is key.
2. Find a community – it can be spiritual, hobby-based, civic, or, simply, like-minded people. They can keep you grounded.
3. Do your best to stay physically healthy – nutrition, sleep, exercise, and plenty of water!
4. Mindfulness can help – stay present, rather than concerning yourself with things that are out of your control.
5. Find positive outlets. Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol, they only serve to make matters worse in the long term.
6. Set goals – having direction and targets (easy-to-reach ones) can help.
7. Focus on others. Helping others can be a great way to get away from your thoughts, and helping others is rewarding.
8. Learn to spot it – if you catch yourself going down rabbit holes, identify it and remind yourself that “feelings are not facts”.
9. Remember, there is a very limited list of things that you have control over. Focus on those, rather than things far beyond your control.
10. Learn from experience – When has this happened before? How did I overcome it?

And remember, it is a very human trait to worry and we all do it but we should always ask – am I creating a fantasy or a reality?

By Michelle McCormack, Grow Area Coordinator, the Midlands Region

Pictured on the right are Josephine Rigney representing the NOSP and Michelle McCormick from Grow Mental Health.

On the 28th of August members from the community and organisations across Offaly gathered to launch Tullamore Goes Green, an initiative supporting the See Change Green Ribbon campaign which aims to end stigma surrounding mental health. 

Participating organisations included Accessible Counselling Tullamore (who organised the launch), the National Office of Suicide Prevention, An Garda Siochana, local politicians, and Grow Mental Health - represented by the local area coordinator for Offaly and Laois, Michelle McCormick.

Every September is Green Ribbon Month. The Green Ribbon symbolises openness to have conversations about mental health. Wear your ribbon to help end mental health stigma and discrimination.

What you can Do to Start the conversation:
Start the conversation about mental health with a friend, family member, or work colleague.
Small things make a difference.
Ask someone how they are doing or go for a coffee.
Talk, but listen too.
Simply being there means a lot.
Don’t just talk about mental health. Chat about everyday things.
Educate yourself:
Visit  to find out more about how we can all combat stigma.

Shop fronts in Tullamore support the initiative by “going green”. The initiative is nationwide, with individuals all over Ireland requesting their ribbons to help start the conversation. You too can request a ribbon by visiting the Tullamore Facebook page and direct messaging them to help start the conversation and #endstigma.


Community Education Programs in Limerick
Our Community Education Programs are coming to Limerick in October. With speakers like John Lonergan,  Caroline Crotty and Celia Brett (both psychotherapists as well as Grow Area Coordinators), Olympian Rosemary Ryan, and Human Givens Therapist Derry O'Malley, these talks are sure to be engaging and informative. Out Community Education Series is sponsored by the HSE and talks are free and open to the public. Contact Joan to book your spot for more information: [email protected] or 086 8113477.



By George Mongey, Grow Member in the Northeast Region

The Northeast Region held an outing on the 27th of May at the Lakeside Manor Hotel, Virginia, Co Cavan. This was a coming together of Grow friends from a number of different Grow Groups. We started with an optional walk at 10am close to the Virginia Show Centre. The walk covered a local wooded area near the Virginia Golf Club bringing us into nature. The photos below don't do the beauty of the area justice. We then came back onto the main road through the town and to our starting point where we drove back to the Lakeside Manor Hotel.

Upon arrival, members were treated to Tea/Coffee and Scones. At 11.30am there were introductions from members of the regional team and organisers outlining the program for the day after which there was a reading from the 12 Steps in the Grow Program Book, with Growers contributing. Later, Michael gave his testimony, and what a wonderful testimony it was too! Michael emphasised that in between attending your Grow meeting you need to work the Grow Program and do your tasks. At Noon there was an open discussion as to what a good meeting should look like. Attendees were divided into groups and a speaker was nominated to give key points from their groups' discussions.

After, we adjourned for a lunch of starters, main course, and dessert mixed with good conservation among friends. We then had a very enjoyable table quiz with a number of rounds covering general knowledge, sports, geography, etc. Glad to say I was on the winning team with two other members of the Raheny Group and Fr. Stan. To end the day, we had some relaxation and music before finally saying our goodbyes around 4.15pm.


By Wayne, Grow Member in the Eastern Region

There is a Grow Walking Group in Wicklow Town that meets every Monday and Thursday morning. We call it the "Chilax Walking Group". We have a walk around Wicklow Town piers followed by a coffee and a chat on Mondays for the members of the group who cannot walk too far. The Thursday morning walk is for those of us who are able for longer walks. There are 8 members of Grow in the walking group which has been going since Grow arrived in Wicklow Town. We are always looking for more Grow members to join us as we tour around the gorgeous landscape on offer in Wicklow, so why not join us?!

By Trish Williams, Grow Area Coordinator in the Eastern Region

The Blackrock/Dun Laoghaire online group celebrated the summer weather with an in-person social on Sunday, September 3rd.  It was a wonderful morning.  The group met at the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire under blue skies. A walk down the pier was followed by a visit to the Lexicon Library Cafe. It was great to get out and enjoy the lovely sunshine and friendly chat in person for a change!
New Grow Groups
Our groups are expanding and new ones are popping up all around Ireland. Here are the ones we know about this month. If we've missed any, please let us know.

  • Limerick, Mondays, 11:00am - 1:00pm, Grow Offices, 33 Henry Street, Limerick. Contact Celia for information: 086 1526966
  • Roscommon, Wednesdays, 11:00am - 1:00pm, REGARI Recovery College, Athlone Road, Ardsallagh More, Roscommon (Beside Roscommon Hospital). Contact Antoinette for information: 086 1659277
  • Bray, Tuesdays, 10:30am - 12:30pm,  Queen of Peace Parish Centre, Putland Road, Bray, Co Wicklow. Contact Trish for information: 086 0129082 
  • Wexford, Mondays, 7:00 - 9:00pm, South West Wexford Family Resource Centre, Ramsgrange, Co. Wexford. Y34 DP26. Contact Felicia for information: 086 1034332
  • The Dundrum group has moved to a new address: Burton Hall Rehab & Training Centre, Cluain Mhuire Community Mental Health Services, Arena Road, Sandyford, Dublin 10, (located behind Woodies DIY). Contact Jeff for information: 086 0787701
  • The Trim Group has moved to High Street, Townspark, South Trim, Co Meath Contact Trish for information: 0867706067 


Jass Mollens, a member of Grow Mental Health's Tullamore Peer Support Group, is going above and beyond in her efforts to embrace the Grow value of “change” in her life this Autumn.

With the support of her fellow Grow Group members, friends, and family, she has begun a weight loss journey in which she hopes to raise awareness and funds for Grow Mental Health.

Under the close supervision of her doctor, Jass has chosen to take a slow and steady approach to her weight loss goal. She, like many others, feels that her own mental health has been negatively impacted by her weight and mobility issues and she is looking forward to a healthier version of herself by Oct. 10th of this year.

She has chosen October 10th as her finish date as it is World Mental Health Day. She strongly believes her attendance at her weekly support group has brought her to a place of positive mental health, a place where she is strong enough to task herself with this personal goal.

Step 3 of the Grow Program, states “We took care and control of our bodies”, so this is where her group is focusing her attention through the weekly tasks they assign at each meeting.

Everyone in Grow Mental Health, from groups all over Ireland, wishes Jass the very best of luck and support on her mission. THANK YOU to everyone who has donated already. 

Click here to Donate



Are you a past member of Grow Mental Health no longer attending our meetings? We would love to hear from you! We are conducting a short survey of past members to help us improve our program. If you would like to help us out, please contact [email protected].


Grow is currently seeking a part-time Human Resources Officer (21-hour week). The purpose of the role is to manage the HR function in Grow  Mental  Health and to work directly with the People and Culture Manager to ensure delivery of the People and Culture work plan driven by the organisation’s strategic plan and objectives. Click here for the full job description and to apply.

Grow would like to welcome Craig Moore who has joined the HR department on a Community Employment Training Scheme. Craig has slotted right in with the team in Swords. He will be following up with staff on records and acknowledgment over the coming months as he supports our HR compliance.

Our latest podcast explores the ideas of happiness and contentment. Do they exist? How do they differ? What does it all have to do with our mental health? As always, thanks for listening!

September 1st - Green Ribbon Day, See Change
September 5th - International Day of Charity

September 8th - International Literacy Day
September 24th - International Day of Peace
September 24th - World Gratitude Day
September 29th - World Heart Day

Open to all staff members. (Attendance to be on your own time) weekly on Mondays @ 2pm. 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]

This 4-week online course is an introduction to how the ongoing support group meetings are run should you decide to attend on a more long-term basis. This short course which is run over 4 weeks will give you an opportunity to decide if support groups, either online or in-person, are for you or not. We will meet for four Fridays at 10:30am, starting September 15th. Why not join us to discover the Grow Program of Hope and Recovery? Click here to enroll.

Our Caring and Sharing Online Coffee Morning will recommence after a short hiatus on Monday, October 2nd at 11 AM.  The group is open to anyone in the Grow Community and will meet regularly online on the first 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
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