Day to mark mental health ‘recovery’

A ‘NATIONAL Recovery Day’ will be marked in Callan and across the South East on July 13 in support of people who are struggling with difficult life issues.

A ‘NATIONAL Recovery Day’ will be marked in Callan and across the South East on July 13 in support of people who are struggling with difficult life issues.

A group will launch candles in small paper boats into the River Nore to mark the day organised by mental-health organisation Grow in remembrance of its co-founder Con Keogh, who was born on July 13, 1921. This “Day of Celebration,” or “National Recovery Day,” will be celebrated by over 20 Grow groups in the South East.

A native of Australia, but with Tipperary and Offaly roots, Con spent 11 years studying in Rome and obtaining doctorates in divinity and philosophy. One night in 1953, he experienced a serious psychotic breakdown. He was hospitalised for 11 months and during that time received a lot of the very rough treatments of the day. He was often confined in a straitjacket, kept in solitary confinement and given ECT, or shock treatment, without any anaesthetic or the muscle relaxants that are administered today.

When Con was finally discharged from hospital, he was a very broken man. Not only had he forgotten much of his philosophy and theology, he had forgotten basic things like how to drive a car, how to say Mass or how to interact with other people. Eventually he was persuaded to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, which was the only form of support available within the community at that time.

In April 1957, Con and a few others got permission to adapt AA’s “12 steps” to suit the needs of people recovering from mental illness rather than alcohol addiction. They called themselves “Recovery,” and the idea began to spread, first to New Zealand and later to Ireland.

In 1972 it changed its name to Grow, a move that meant that anyone could attend. People became involved to work on personal development and to improve and maintain their mental health, rather than only to recover from mental illness.

Grow offers its members a practical way out of mental illness. Each member is empowered to construct a recovery plan, which eventually develops into a plan of personal growth. At each meeting, practical tasks are given to each member and designed to fulfil each person’s unique needs.

Information on venues and times of meetings is at www.grow.ie, or call 056 7761624.