Emma Newman staff writer
NormanAid, during September’s Seek Support Month, hopes to show students that asking for help should not be frowned upon, and that students at Beverly can always get mental health support at the center.
Some students don’t feel comfortable with getting counseling, and according to a poll administered by Highlights on Sept. 18, 29% of freshmen would feel embarrassed to get help for mental health reasons. To fight against this stigma, Alison Norman-Franks, the intervention counselor at NormanAid, puts on this month to make students know about the resources offered and to show students that they can feel comfortable at the center.
Every month has a theme at NormanAid, but September’s Seek support month specifically drew inspiration from both the national Suicide Prevention Month in September and the challenges that come with starting a new school year. As a part of this theme, all ninth graders participate in the SOS (Signs of Suicide) program, which began last year, during September.
This month has a focus on helping students with their transition, which can be stressful for some. In fact, 94% of freshman said that they have experienced more stress since starting the school year.
“[This month], stress really starts to pick up, so we really encourage students to seek support early so they could learn how to better manage that anxiety and that sadness throughout the year,” counseling intern and student Rachel Barnes said.
In addition to helping students with stress, this month is a month with an emphasis on suicide prevention. In the SOS program, which is specifically dedicated to this cause, NormanAid meets with every freshman to watch a video, teach them about the risk of suicide and inform them of the best way to help students ask for help.
Even though this particular program is specifically geared toward freshmen, Norman-Franks still wishes that juniors and seniors who have never had the chance to participate could have the opportunity to do so.
“In a perfect world, we would be able to give the SOS program to every single student, so I guess that is what I would change,” Norman-Franks said. “I know that eventually, every student will have had the opportunity to go through it, but I do think our juniors and seniors could benefit from the SOS program as well. It’s just hard to do it for the whole school because it’s very time intensive.”
SOS is not the only service provided for students this month. On Sept. 27, NormanAid will be passing out lemonade at their center. This is just one of the many monthly events that NormanAid will host throughout the year.
“Our big goal is to have one big event a month to help students know what NormanAid does and help understand the climate of high school better,” Barnes said.
Some of these events include the monthly aid programs, the resource tables inside NormanAid and in front of the library, and the monthly events similar to the lemonade event. By doing these programs, NormanAid hopes to send the message that they are a place where any person feels they can go to for mental health support, no matter the circumstance.
“By doing assemblies and education, we’re helping students know how to get help and that NormanAid is a safe place that they can come in without being judged,” Norman-Franks said. “We are just there to be their advocates and to support them and help them be safe,” Norman-Franks said.