Alya Mehrtash staff writer
NormanAid has begun promoting their MonthlyAid program, beginning with September as Seek Support month.
Since the launch of the program during the 2017-18 school year, NormanAid has hosted themed events each month dedicated to different mental health topics. The program gives NormanAid the chance to shed light on many prominent issues and feelings relating to mental health that students often experience. Intervention Counselor Ali Norman-Franks finds that MonthlyAid is an efficient way to promote the services and resources of NormanAid while also erasing the common stigma that comes with seeking mental support.
“Our themed months are what we call ‘MonthlyAid’ and the goal of them is to give us an opportunity to talk about mental health and the different topics that students can talk about in NormanAid,” Norman-Franks said. “We want students to know that they can come in here and get support on so many different mental health concerns.”
This sense of shame that often comes with seeking support does not go unnoticed by students, either. Senior peer counselor Daniela Mashoudy agreed with Norman-Franks, explaining that students may get judged by their peers for simply trying to get emotional help.
“A lot of students are afraid to come inside NormanAid,” Mashoudy said. “There’s a stigma that comes with coming inside. People think like, ‘Oh, you have problems if you come,’ but as peer counselors, and through these MonthlyAid events, we hope that students are going to come to NormanAid more often if they have some issues or if they just want to talk.”
Seek Support month, the first month of MonthlyAid, focuses on this stigma and aims to show students that there is nothing wrong with getting help.
“The idea of [this] month in general is to let students know that…we all have bad days and it’s okay to talk about it, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to come into NormanAid,” Norman-Franks said.
Throughout this month, there will be several events and activities that promote NormanAid. These events plan on teaching students more about mental health and its importance.
One of the main events of Seek Support month will be taking place between Sept. 25 and Sept. 27; NormanAid will be holding suicide prevention workshops for all freshmen. The new workshops will be going through the SOS Program, otherwise known as “Signs of Suicide.” In these workshops, students learn how to recognize signs of suicidal thoughts and are taught how to seek proper support in these situations. Through this program, all freshmen will also undergo a depression screening. Although NormanAid will not issue any formal diagnoses, they will be able to detect risks of depression in certain students and can recommend seeking help from mental health professionals.
Another Seek Support event will be Suicide Prevention Day, taking place on Sept. 28. On this day, lemonade and a photo booth will be available for students in the NormanAid Center. Norman-Franks and peer counselors hope that this event will attract more traffic into the NormanAid Center. Students and staff are also encouraged to wear purple in honor of suicide prevention.
The importance of seeking support is one that is constantly emphasized by Norman-Franks and many others in the NormanAid community.
“We don’t want people to be going through difficult things and keep it secret,” Norman-Franks said. “We want them to know it’s okay, that [NormanAid’s] a resource, and that we can support them through any challenge that they’re facing.”
The NormanAid Center is located in the bungalows at room V33.