Monday, May 6, 2013

Online support group research offers insight, practicum student wonders about support groups in Nigeria | Gbolahan Alex Ajisope



Gbolahan Alex Ajisope
My experience with support groups started when I joined the WSU Center for Community Support and Research as a practicum student this semester. Before I started working on the Support Group Services (SGS) team, I never thought that there were organizations or groups of people who would come together in order to comfort and support each other during difficult periods in their lives.

I find it very interesting because as simple and casual as it may look, a majority of people have been able to gain comfort from many of the support groups listed in the SGS database (supportgroupsinkansas.org). I added some new support groups to the database and also updated some of the information.

For my project I agreed to research online support groups. I wanted to experience an online support group, so I joined one. It took a while to find one where I felt I could offer legitimate conversation and gain experience. Eventually I figured out that I needed to find a support group for college students. Then it didn’t take long to sign up for a group.

I had a lot of fun with the group. I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me online throughout the week, but eventually I met a lot of students and members on Saturdays and Sundays. I think that was because students were busy with school projects, assignment and work during the week and they seem to only come online on the weekends. They came together to relax and talk about everything going on in their academic lives as well as other issues. We exchanged a lot of ideas and advice, which was really cool.

The benefits people derive from support groups cannot be overemphasized. Groups help members gain a sense of empowerment and control. They also help people reduces stress, depression, and anxiety among other things.
My overall experience with support groups have made me wonder how I can start something like this in my home country, Nigeria, and how these can be spread to as many countries as possible.


Alex was accepted into the Masters of Public Health program at the University of Oklahoma and he plans to begin in the spring of 2014.

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