More than half of all teenage girls and almost one-third of all teenage boys in the United States are currently engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors. Stress is on the rise in communities nationwide.  Obesity is a national epidemic. Unfortunately, little effort has been made thus far in schools to reduce stress, to increase body esteem, self-acceptance, or to safely raise awareness of these inter-related mental health concerns which are plaguing students and families from all demographic and socio-economic backgrounds. In addition, according to the 2011 President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities “Reinvesting in Arts Education …” report, we know the many ways the arts positively affect brain functioning, enhance coping and offer an array of physical and psychological benefits to children from all communities.
Our combined experience over the last two decades in professional performing arts and in the educational and mental health communities has led to the realization that we need to provide better coping strategies for children–in particular, strategies that incorporate proven arts and mindfulness techniques. We know that journal writing, deep breathing, meditation, affirmation, voice, movement and other professional arts techniques have been proven effective in reducing stress, increasing balance, and increasing the parasympathetic nervous system (our bodies ability to calm itself). NORMAL integrates all of these elements into our array of programs listed below.
In 2010, NORMAL was awarded the Champion in Women’s Health Award by Ms. Sue Ann Thompson and The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation. NORMAL is endorsed by twenty of the nation’s leading nonprofits in mental health, has the support of at least fifty of the top researchers in the field and works in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health. For seven years, NORMAL has delivered an array of arts and mindfulness programs that have shown to effectively teach students and families from all socio-economic backgrounds about mental health, eating disorders, and healthy coping skills.
NORMAL specializes in training community leaders, educators, school nurses, coaches and parents about eating disorders. We do not recommend educating students about eating disorders PRIOR to educating the leaders. We are developing our “3 Tiered Training models” in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health prevention program in eating disorders. Our pilot districts include grade schools, middle schools, high schools and universities in New York and South Carolina. We know that educating in each district is something that must be customized for each community and can offer assistance in your area.
For information about how to effectively educate about eating disorders in your community, please schedule a consultation by e-mailing Robyn Hussa Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 National Institute of Mental Health