Background: There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses annually in the United States. Before graduation, 1 in 10 students will have considered suicide. Students aged 15-24 are in the highest risk group for a majority of mental illnesses, though 1 in 4 will not seek help or treatment. This trend must stop, and it starts with The Bandana Project. When students receive a bandana, we will give them 3-5 resource cards to always carry with them should they be approached. Purpose: The Bandana Project is a program designed to spread awareness of resources for those with mental illness. The lime green bandanas, to be distributed across campus, are attached to students’ backpacks. This indicates that they are a safe individual to approach with mental health-related issues, that they know where resources are, and that they hold a few resource cards (provided by the UWPD) with outlets to get help and support in times of crisis such as UHS, NAMI-UW, and National Crisis Lines. Not only does the program give tangible resourcefulness to an individual, but provides invaluable unspoken support. If someone sees a lime green bandana on the backpack of a stranger, it is a sign of stigma-free, quiet solidarity. They will know that they are not alone in their struggle.
After losing an uncle and a close friend to suicide in high school, Conlin Bass went to college avidly looking for ways to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and to normalize seeking care for mental health. As part of this mission, he founded The Bandana Project (BP) on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus January of 2016 with the help of his NAMI On Campus chapter. The Bandana Project is a simple yet innovative suicide prevention and mental health awareness movement. Members tie a lime-green bandana to their backpack, signifying they are in possession of campus-specific and national resources. This proliferates resources, normalizes and de-stigmatizes getting help, and provides invaluable, unspoken solidarity with those struggling.
THE BANDANA PROJECT TODAY
The Bandana Project has a proven history of sweeping through campuses and changing climates of mental health by activating students who are already passionate about eliminating this stigma. For over 5 years, it has given students and staff at over 40 campuses the tangible resources that they desire and also recognize as very needed. It works as a display against stigma on a grand scale, helps folks be more supportive of their own and others’ mental health, and fosters conversations that change lives, one green bandana at a time.
INTERESTED IN TRACKING OUR DISTRIBUTION?
We have distributed over 5,000 bandanas on the UW-Madison campus as of Spring 2022!