The Green Bandana Project originally started at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus to promote a stigma-free and supportive environment, led by students with the aim of raising awareness and promoting a caring culture for those facing mental health issues or crises.
“The goal is to shift the culture at Sacred Heart University to a place that’s supportive and compassionate,” said Peer Education Coordinator, Karen Flanagan. “In a place where we really just look out for one another and to create just a culture that normalizes the idea of mental health, certainly there are times where students feel a stigma around seeking help for mental health issues.”
Student Wellness Education and Empowerment Team (S.W.E.E.T), a group of students at Sacred Heart University on campus that provides information on important issues students care about, have adopted this project.
When a student wears a green bandana, it signals that they are informed about relevant resources and are equipped to provide help if necessary.
“Having the green bandana is there to make their peers feel comfortable talking to them about mental health and where to find the resources for it,” said senior Kailee Welch.
The Green Bandana Project acts as a conversation starter, prompting discussions on mental health, and erasing the stigma associated with it.
Student leaders still strongly encourage students to seek immediate professional help in a crisis, but the green bandana offers comfort and a sense of solidarity in that moment of vulnerability.
For those interested in making the pledge, S.W.E.E.T’s in-person therapy dog event offers students the chance to sign up on the spot. Welch said, “Therapy dog events or if we are planning
some pop-up events for the project, there is a QR code that can also be sent out to everybody to sign up, and once you sign up, there is a super easy pledge.”
Several colleges and universities around the world have expressed interest in implementing similar programs on their campuses. The Green Bandana Project resonates with students worldwide, as it provides a platform where they become part of the solution regarding the prevalent issue of mental health.
Senior Lauren Torres said, “I think it’s a great initiative, but I don’t know how it is perceived through the perspective of people truly struggling with their mental health.”
The project doesn’t only tackle the issue of mental health head-on, but also creates a sense of community and togetherness. It reminds students that they are not alone and that they have the resources and a support system ready and willing to listen, understand and help.
The issue of mental health has been a growing concern among college students. With studies showing that one in every four college students is struggling with a mental illness, it has become imperative to tackle this concern.
Flanagan said, “The project is a very simple way to create a visual presence of supportive students on campus and in supportive of student mental health.”
According to the Foundation for Suicide Prevention, ninety percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying and potentially treatable mental health condition.
“I think it definitely brings initiative to students wanting to ask for mental health help or just to talk to other students about resources available on campus” said Welch.
If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental health, please reach out to someone you feel comfortable talking to or to the Sacred Heart Counseling Center at (203)-371-7955.