Saturday 17 August 2019

Dr. Con Keogh

JULY 13 was this year set aside to remember and honour the life and work of Con Keogh, co-founder and main inspiration behind the mental health organisation GROW.

Con Keogh was born on July 13, 1921, and died on November 24, 2011.

A native of New South Wales, but with Tipperary and Offaly roots, Con was a visionary, a man very much ahead of his time.

Having 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.

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. He had a huge sense of stigma and felt like hiding away.

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 various forms of mental illness rather than alcohol addiction.

At first they called themselves Recovery, before changing its name to GROW in 1972.

GROW came to Ireland in 1969. It began in the small parish of Athea, County Limerick.

Today it is our largest Mutual Help Organisation working in the area of mental health with a national network of 130 groups. GROW offers its members a practical way out of mental illness.

If you have any friends who are struggling with difficult life issues, think of them and make July 13 your own recovery day.

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