Justin Greenberg cub writer
Samantha Nabati cub writer
Kaia Lopez cub writer
Most students have heard of NormanAid, but do not know why it exists. It is imperative that students have positive mental health, and NormanAid Founder and Counselor Alli Norman-Franks explains not only how persistent counselors are doing this, but the importance of it.
Norman-Franks founded NormanAid when students were not talking to her, a school counselor, about anything personal. She came up with the solution to begin NormanAid.
“When I started here as a counselor, I was a regular school counselor. At the time, students weren’t coming in and sharing personal things…We didn’t have a wellness counselor, and school counselors did college, academic, and career…So I had basically created a proposal of what I thought we should have, and that was the NormanAid center” she said.
This new option was a way for students to talk to someone about anything they needed to share. She talks about confidentiality, and how it connects to being able to talk to someone about problems one may be facing.
“If someone is harming themselves or a threat to someone else, we [counselors] have to make sure we are giving the best help so we would have to break confidentiality…but we go over our limits of confidentiality, which are similar to any mental health promise…we always let them know,” she said.
She says that NormanAid does have a positive impact on students, and it can be inferred, that by counselors and students persistence, they can get the help they need, or in a counseling sense, give the help that is offered.
“I think over the years, more and more students know that NormanAid exists…so I think students know what is available, there is some comfort knowing it is here…so yes, I think it has made a big difference,” she states.
She emphasizes that a student’s stories can stick with her, and any other counselor sitting down with a student. It seems that talking about these hard topics can be hard, even for the professionals.
“As any mental health professional, sometimes it would be very hard to hear what a student is sharing. Maybe you’re worried about their safety or how they’re being treated outside of the counseling space, or they might share something with you that is a similar experience that you had and brings up old wounds”
She goes on to state how it is even important that mental health professionals, such as herself, have guidance.
“It’s really important as part of being a mental health professional that you have mental health support as well so that you can work through them and you don’t get burned out,” she said.
She also talks about the space outside the offices, where many students enjoy coming to simply just play games, or relax. Students can either wait here for appointments, or come during a break to have a stress free zone to truly “chill,” Freshman Diya Tuli affirms this.
“It is a good place where I can cool off and relieve my stress…the drawing thing helps me the most,” Tuli said.
Not only does NormanAid have adult counselors, but they also have peer counselors, who help run the monthly aid program, give ideas for speakers and events, and help run the center, from checking in students, to being the “eyes and ears of what is happening in the school.”
“They’ll give us [adult counselors] some ideas on things that we can do better to connect with students. They help with our podcasts and different things like that,” Norman-Franks said.
As a peer counselor herself, freshman Presley Frankel states her thoughts on the program.
“I just love being in the environment that NormanAid provides and it just gives off a really ‘homey’ feel, and I really enjoy that feeling being at school.
Norman-Franks also talks about next year’s plans for NormanAid, and some possible changes that they plan. One of these include bios for counselors, which she states can make a student feel more comfortable opening up.
“It is going to be cool too with the way it’s going to be set up next year because they’ll [counselors] have their bio too. So students can read the bio and be like, ‘oh, this sounds like somebody that I would connect with,’’’ she stated.
Overall, she states how NormanAid has been beneficial to students throughout school this year, and what it took to make it such a great place.
“Having that resource at a school can make such a difference and makes a difference in the classroom,” Norman-Franks said.