Hames. Carolyn [faculty advisor, Department of Nursing]
Peer grief; counseling; support; National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers; University of Rhode Island
According to statistics, 22-30% of all college students are within their first twelve months of grieving the death of a family member or friend (Balk, 2008). There are even more students dealing with the illness of a family member or friend. This demonstrates the immense need on college campuses for support for students experiencing loss. One of the most beneficial types of support are peer support groups.
Peer support groups provide an essential environment for grief that cannot be obtained from individual counseling. People experiencing grief are apt to feel alone. Members of peer support groups tend to be relieved to know that they are not the only ones going through something difficult. A freshman student at Georgetown University realized how beneficial this could be when his mother died. He founded an organization called National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers (AMF). It has three main components: Service, Support, and Mentoring. This group now exists on over 20 campuses and it continues to spread across the United States.
The goal of this project was to establish a chapter of AMF at the University of Rhode Island. This involved initial planning, development of an organizational process, establishment of an advisory council, marketing and advertisement, garnishing support from URI administrators and staff, applying for Student Senate recognition, and initiating the support groups. Three students worked to accomplish these objectives as well as establish a plan for continuation of the organization into the next academic year. This includes finding new leaders for the coming year. We understand that students need this type of resource and we hope that they will utilize it to its fullest potential.
Balk, David E. “Grieving: 22 to 30 percent of all college students.” New Directions for Student Services. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 2008.