Emma Newman staff writer
NormanAid has recently created a virtual counseling program due to the conditions caused by COVID-19, which allows for video and audio sessions.
Because of the coronavirus, the once in-person counseling program now provides students with the opportunity to meet online with counselors of their choosing.
Ali Norman-Franks, the wellness counselor for NormanAid, thinks that this program is especially important due to the new conditions students are facing.
“We want to take care of [students’] mental health and make sure that they’re being connected with school,” Norman-Franks said.
The peer counselors also are dealing with these issues and the challenge of helping students without seeing them face-to-face. Peer counselor senior Sophia Mantville said via text that the counseling is a “different experience” now that it is virtual.
“[Peer counselors] are really wanting to be on campus,” Norman-Franks said. “We want to be visible and able to help students.”
According to Mantville, the counselors have not really discussed their role in the program yet.
Adjusting to the new program has not been technologically difficult and Norman-Franks actually thinks it was “quite easy” to set up. This is because NormanAid already had an online counseling website, www.normanaidrequest.org, that allowed students to schedule appointments.
This website has since been adjusted to make appointments for online sessions. When scheduling these appointments, students can specify which therapist they prefer, or they can choose to be randomly assigned.
The new online counseling program is also working with NormanAid’s year-long MonthlyAid program. MonthlyAid, which assigns a counseling-related theme to each month, will continue virtually. This month, the theme is Accepting Yourself Month.
“When we’re educating the students about the MonthlyAid programs and bringing awareness to different social [and] emotional challenges or issues, it may inspire students to call a counselor and talk about that topic,” Norman-Franks said.
To further NormanAid’s online impact, Norman-Franks will be virtually meeting with the peer counselors to brainstorm new ways of expanding their online counseling.
“We’re going to discuss different ways besides the MonthlyAid and virtual counseling… that we can continue to help students while they’re home learning,” Norman-Franks said.
This is a priority to Norman-Franks, who recognizes the significance of counseling.
“We really wanted to make sure that students were still able to connect with counselors,” Norman-Franks said. “We know that students need it now more than ever.”