Growing out of mental illness

GROWING A RESOURCE: Ann Main at the Grow house in Lismore.
GROWING A RESOURCE: Ann Main at the Grow house in Lismore.

DAVE McLoughlin's first entry into the mental health system was 21 years ago; being dragged kicking and screaming from a paddy wagon into hospital, in the throes of a psychotic episode.

He was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. When he came out of hospital he found his way to the local Grow group and joined. It was his pathway to recovery.

Now he is an integral part of Grow in Lismore. He has never had a recurrence of that episode, but regularly visits the mental health patients at Lismore, and encourages them to join Grow.

"When Grow was first established in 1957, there was no other mutual support group quite like it," Dave said.

"Grow created its own 12-step program, written by its members, which is quite different from the AA one, but also focused on recovery and prevention of mental illness."

Dave said people living with a mental illness may find it hard to know where to turn to, for access to services and support.

Grow has established a new resource room in their Grow building on the corner of Ballina and Wyrallah Roads, which aims to provide a smorgasbord of information.

It's being put together by Grow member Ann Main, a volunteer who is there five days a week and has been building up a mental health library and information centre.

"I'm a firm believer in Grow and what they do," Ann told The Echo.

"It can be a first base for people who have a mental illness diagnosis, helping people in their journey back to mental health. There are several groups and agencies around Lismore that provide support and referral services. I found Grow to be the most empathetic and one day the penny dropped! What was needed was one place where all the information about all the organisations could be stored and made available - in other words, a resource room," Anne said.

Ann said the aims of Grow were to relieve anxieties about the health system, help people navigate through that system, and to de-stigmatise mental illness.

to go to grow


The Grow house is at 125 Ballina Road, with its entrance on Wyrallah Road.


The Resource Room is open Fridays from 10am-2pm.


Grow meetings are held on Tuesdays at 10am and Wednesdays at 6.30pm.


There are no fees but donations are welcome.


Phone 6621 3737

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