NormanAid’s ‘Make Today Well Lived’ podcast addresses mental health struggles

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Guest speaker Ryan Weiss answers questions in Season 2, Episode 1 of “Make Today Well Lived.”

Highlights

Emma Newman co-editor-in-chief

NormanAid’s “Make Today Well Lived” podcast is now on its second season and continues to have speakers address NormanAid’s monthly themes. The podcast, which contains both visuals and audio, is filmed by KBEV and shown in most physical education classes.

The podcast started as a way to address students’ mental health needs during online school and continues to air as a COVID-safe way to continue NormanAid’s tradition of having speakers address the center’s MonthlyAid mental health topics. 

Another perk of the podcast, according to wellness counselor Ali Norman-Franks, is that it can reach both students and non-students.

“We’re reaching a lot of students, in addition to people outside of the school…, like family members. I feel like we’re reaching a lot of people, so that feels positive,” Norman-Franks said.

Norman-Franks has found that the students who listen to the podcast tend to “really like it.” 

“[It] sounds like the kids are really engaged and interested in it,” Norman-Franks said. “When we do it as a wellness lesson, we always have questions that we ask the students to ask after watching the video, and the teachers have said it’s brought up a lot of really good discussions, so I think [there’s] positive impact.” 

NormanAid peer counselor senior Kate Lewis, who is one of the hosts of the podcast, has also received positive feedback and recognition. 

“So many people come up to me who are like, ‘Oh my god, you’re the girl from the podcast.’ Especially during quarantine, I would go on walks a lot and I got recognized by parents because parents heard my voice. I would be talking, [and] they’d be like, ‘I’ve literally seen you’ and ‘I’ve seen you on my kid’s laptop,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, thank you, but I don’t know who you are,’” Lewis said. “It’s all been positive feedback. A lot of people said very nice things.” 

Lewis enjoys participating in the podcast, specifically because it has allowed her to virtually meet speakers who she finds interesting. 

“We talk to really cool people. They all have really cool life stories and everything they’ve gone through, whether it be traumatic or inspirational, all of it’s really interesting and I always learn something,” Lewis said. 

Lewis especially enjoyed talking with Ben Greiner, a professional hockey player and founder of a mental health organization called The TAD Project, whose story she found to be “really inspirational and cool.” 

Norman-Franks also appreciates interacting with speakers. Her favorite episode was “Strengthening Our Community Through Allyship,” when multiple guests spoke about their experiences with discrimination and how others could be an ally to those who share similar experiences.

This month, Norman-Franks plans to interview Donzaleigh Abernathy, the goddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the daughter of the man who started Martin Luther King Day. However, the podcast has been difficult to arrange. 

“She shares a story of [how] she was involved in every single Civil Rights Movement, marches and events…and she’s gonna share her experience with racism and how that racial trauma impacted her mental health and the resilience of how she got through it, as well as Martin Luther King and her dad,” Norman-Franks said. “I’m really looking forward to that podcast, but she’s been so busy, so she’s had to cancel her interview. I’m really hoping something doesn’t happen [that would mean] she won’t go…this month.” 

In the past, other speakers, according to Norman-Franks, have been difficult to arrange interviews with. However, she believes that the speakers who have eventually been chosen were the right fit regardless. 

“Once we have them, I feel like the peer counselors do a great job with the interview and the questions, but it’s just lining up the guests is not easy,” Norman-Franks said. “But, I feel really happy with the speakers and the guests that we’ve been able to get. I feel like they were the perfect match for that month.” 

NormanAid peer counselor senior Mae Cohen, the other host of the podcast, believes that people should listen to the podcast to learn about mental health from people who are experts. 

“It’s helpful to hear in real time…and see an outside perspective on mental health,” Cohen said. “If you’re open to the concept of learning more about mental health and possibly bettering your own, it’s good to listen to the podcast and get more of an insight on mental health coming from other people.” 

Norman-Franks further encourages people to listen to the podcast because of the current mental health challenges teens are facing.

“Right now, I think we’re all in interesting times with mental health, and education and being aware of how to support each other and support others [is] really interesting,” Norman-Franks said. “We’re really fortunate with the speakers that we’ve been able to lock down, so I think it’s entertaining, but I also believe that it helps students to take care of themselves and others.”