Happy anniversary to us! April 26 marks the first official GROW meeting, or as it was known then, Recovery. Our history has made us the organisation we are today. Founded by Catholic priest Father Con Keogh in 1957, GROW continues to provide free, peer-to-peer groups for people looking for support with their mental health and wellbeing.
In 1954, Con suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalised. He documented his treatment at the time as coercive treatment including straight-jackets, isolation, and shock treatment.
He spent about 10 months in hospital and after being discharged, he describes being mortally afraid and suffering from severe memory loss. During his time of recovery, a friend invited Con to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, despite not identifying as an alcoholic.
Con responded well to the fellowship of the meetings and the AA program. Along the way Con met others attending AA who were not necessarily alcoholics but found attending the meetings helped with their mental health. Eventually this group of like-minded friends started to talk about forming a group to meet their own specific needs to help them recover their mental health.
The outcome of this is what we now know as GROW. Although Con and others started meeting years before, April 26 1957 marks the first official gathering of people who were looking for support with their mental health. This group began helping and supporting each other back to good mental health. Back then we were known as Recovery – to emphasise the goal and the solution rather than the problem.
Over the years Con and the leaders developed the 12 Steps of Recovery and Personal Growth. They developed the Blue Book and formalised how the groups would meet and follow an agenda of sorts – tools we still use at all our Grow groups today.
From its very humble beginnings, GROW keeps on developing and expanding across Australia. GROW continues to be a community-based organisation that has helped thousands of Australians with their recovery from mental ill-health through a unique program of mutual support and personal development.
Along the way, GROW has used the principles and wisdoms of the original Grow program to expand its services and meet the needs of other population groups – for example, through Get Growing in schools, and Growing Resilience which responds to problems triggered by COVID-19 or other life-changing events.
We’ve achieve a lot since the 1950’s, follow our progress over the years here.
To find out more about GROW and our groups and range of programs visit www.grow.org.au