What is G.R.O.W.?

Group Recovery of the World    A Mental Health Movement

GROW is concerned about a person’s mental health and emotional maturity.  It is an international community mental health movement which began in Sydney, Australia in April, 1957 when a number of former mental patients, who had discovered the enormous benefit of organised mutual help while attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, began to meet on their own to work more directly on their problems of rehabilitation after mental breakdown. The keynote of their growth was the maximum use of each one’s personal resources; the animating principle of the groups was friendship and friendly help; and the foremost common aim was realistic understanding – understanding of what mental health is, how to get it (or regain it after losing it) and how to keep it. They followed the 12 Steps of Personal Growth and the first step is:  We admitted that we were inadequate or maladjusted to life.

Growers use the word maladjusted, not in a superficial sense of ‘maladjusted to society’, for they believe that it is far too obvious that society itself is seriously maladjusted and they have learned the painful consequences for mental health of mere conformity to the will of others. They acknowledge maladjustment in a deeper sense, meaning ‘maladjusted to life’.  This can be understood to mean mentally and/or socially and/or spiritually out of tune with reality.  The admission of personal maladjustment does not settle whether I have brought my trouble on myself or other causes have inflicted it on me.  I could be either in the wrong or sick or both at once.  But in any case, it does indicate some established and serious disorder.

Growers claim that inadequate expresses their inability to establish right order of healthy living.  Moreover, since life is a dynamic process and everybody is either growing or declining, inadequacy which has not been promptly remedied is already the beginning of disorder and the seed of eventually serious maladjustment. GROW deals with prevention as well as rehabilitation.

To be effective in prevention it is necessary to help people before they reach the point of grave disorder in their minds and lives.  There are many stages of decline before a serious disorder becomes manifest.

GROW believes that no one is a ‘no-hoper’. By a word you can torment someone with the worst side of themselves and because of their past you can rob them of their future.  Your rejection of them stirs up something in them to make them reject you also, by sheer rejection.  Because you down-grade them and give them nothing to live up to, they will probably set about living down to where you put them.  If a person has lost all true self-esteem and has only injured pride left, s/he will lash back with that.  GROW believes that when all else is gone, the instinct for self preservation is still a good instinct to build on.  For there is something vital, something good, something capable of responding to friendship and to grace, at the heart of even the most disordered and depraved person.  Friendly optimism is more contagious in the long run than despair and disparagement.

A person stops trying when they stop hoping.


In order to get well we must have the will to get well. Most maladjusted people would like very much to get well again.  Many are also fully aware that they have to change in order to grow to fully responsible living and mental health; but unless we are willing to change, then we will remain unhappy forever.

Find a GROW group you feel comfortable in and you will find people who accept you as you are, who are supportive and encouraging and most of all, it doesn’t cost anything!

M.McKenna 2010

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