Numbers attending the weekly GROW support group meeting in Longford have increased in recent times, according to Mr John Farren, area co-ordinator for the organisation. He continued by saying that this is reflective of what is happening on a national level and it is due largely to the economic downturn. GROW is a mental health body which helps people who have suffered, or are suffering, from mental health problems.
“We have noticed an increase in the number of attendees with the economic downturn, its stresses and strains. We encourage everybody out there to come if they feel isolated or are in need of support,” said Mr Farren, whose role has recently been expanded to include Longford.
He added: “All our meetings are free-of-charge and they start at 6pm and finish at 8pm. We also have tea and biscuits after the meeting.”
To attend a GROW meeting, a person does not have to have attended hospital and as such the support group is open to all. “We all have things that we would like to talk about in confidence and safety. Our idea would be to empower people to take responsibility for their own lives,” he said. “It is important to remember that we all have difficulties in a range of areas, e.g. anxiety, stress and loneliness.”
During the group meeting, attendees are encouraged to take small steps in order to recover.
“This is done with support from the group and support from the GROW programme,” said Mr Farren, who has been working with GROW for over five years.
He added: “When you come to a GROW meeting, you can expect a great welcome and friendship from the other members. You will meet like-minded people. There will be people there suffering from the same problems as you, while others will have their own concerns. It is important to know that we are not alone.”
Later in the year (September / October), GROW plans to run a five week programme in Longford promoting positive mental health in older people.
“Older people can feel very isolated and lonely. Those who are retired can find it very difficult to deal with having so much less to do,” said Mr Farren. To book a place on this programme contact the GROW office in Tullamore – tel 057-9351124.
GROW is funded by the Health Services Executive (HSE) but does rely to a certain extent on fund-raising efforts. To this end there will be a church gate collection on Saturday June 9 and Sunday June 10 at St. Mel’s Cathedral Centre. Volunteers to collect money are welcome – simply contact Mr John Farren on 086-8033126.
The Longford GROW meeting is held in St. Joseph’s Day Care Centre each Monday morning and each Tuesday (6pm).