Actively Moving Forward® (AMF) is a HealGrief@ program that continues to lead addressing the needs of grieving young adults. AMF was created as a response to student needs as they wanted to connect with others who understood their grief, feel supported through their grief journey, become empowered to obtain a healthy personal growth, and to be actively moving forward in the aftermath of a traumatic death loss.
Now, we are addressing their needs as a societal issue with AMF’s Grief Sensitive Campus Initiative. Over a decade ago, independent research studies confirmed that 1 in every 3 college student between the ages of 18-25 was grieving a death or a person’s diagnosis of a terminal illness. That in itself, could make young adult grief a silent epidemic. However now, with families getting older and massive deadly violence so prevelent, we suspect the numbers are significantly larger.
Grief symptoms may place grieving students at on overall disadvantage to their non-grieving peers. It may interfere with their ability to acheive their optimal potential. Symptoms may include an inability to focus, insomnia, isolation to name a few. Unsupported grief may lead to poor coping skills, addiction, suicidal ideology and might attribute to the overall drop-out rate.
About one in three college students have experienced the death of a family member or close friend within the past year (Balk, Walker, & Baker, 2010).
Several factors unique to the college age and environment can make grief during college particularly difficult to encounter with resilience. These factors include geographic distance from home and usual support systems, academic pressures, inadequate peer support and empathy, and limited resources for grief support on many college campuses.
Thus, grieving college students are at greater risk than their peers of a host of physical, academic, social, developmental, and emotional issues (Balk, 2008; Servaty-Seib, 2006). Moreover, grieving students commonly report feeling alone, helpless, unsupported, and like no one “gets it” (Fajgenbaum, Chesson, & Lanzi, 2012).
Despite the need and calls in the literature for improved university support efforts (Balk, 2001; Wrenn, 1999), few targeted, supportive interventions existed on college campuses before Actively Moving Forward® (AMF) in 2005.
Why AMF, a HealGrief program, has made such an impact:
AMF is the first initiative of its kind: created by grieving college students for grieving college students. AMF has also benefited from the expertise of nonprofit leaders, professional staff, college mental health professionals, and bereavement experts.
Unlike generalized counseling services, AMF outlets are targeted to the specific population in need. AMF Chapter Leaders create a peer-led support group, which is NOT a counseling service, but rather a support system for grieving students to connect and share their experiences with other people who “get it.” Furthermore, AMF Campus Chapters provide an array of supportive opportunities. Many college students may be reluctant to participate in support groups or counseling and then for those who do, they too may benefit from more than one resource.
Furthermore, Chapter Leaders make meaning and find benefits by channeling their grief towards helping other students. They also benefit by participation in the Service Group. The Service Group provides a tangible and therapeutic benefit for the bereaved, a positive impact on the community at large, and an opportunity for friends of the bereaved to show their support. Abundant anecdotal evidence suggests that students, especially males, who may shy away from support groups and professional counseling, have found participation in AMF service activities to be a significantly therapeutic and often preferable outlet (Fajgenbaum, et al., 2012).
Why a Grief Sensitive Campus?
Here you’ll find important information about the need for young adult grief support and an outline on AMF’s Grief Sensitive Campus Initative.
Research and Findings
Here you’ll find important research supporting the need for young adult grief support and a Grief Sensitive Campus.
Here you’ll find supplemental information supporting AMF’s work and why it’s crucial for grieving young to be supported.