NDSU’s Green Bandana Project reaches milestone

DEVILS LAKE JOURNAL

Fargo, – North Dakota State University’s Green Bandana Project has trained more than 535 people during the past year. The nationwide effort is a visual support system for persons struggling with such issues as anxiety or depression.

For the project, students attach bandanas to their backpacks after they receive training about available resources on mental health-related issues. Green Bandana participants pledge to listen to persons in need, support them and provide information about where they can seek help.

The project began at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and the idea was introduced to other institutions during the Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls annual leadership conference in 2019. NDSU delegation members Halie Van Vleet and Jenna Saatoff decided to organize a Green Bandana Project on campus.

"The Green Bandana Project prioritizes spreading awareness and education about mental health conditions, suicide and how to help others going through hard times,” said Van Vleet, a sophomore nursing student from West Fargo. “A green bandana is used as quiet sign of solidary to signify safety and trust.”

Saatoff said the project is designed to show students that they are not alone, and the training sessions provide basic education on how to spot and talk to people who may be grappling with mental health issues.

“Whether you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the bandana shows people you are there for them,” said Saatoff, who is a student in the Master of Business Administration program from Fargo.

“When people attend our sessions, it's our goal for them to become a person who focuses on their mental health and knowing when someone may need more help,” Saatoff said. “We give them resource cards to allow them to hand out to others they feel may benefit from knowing the resources around them.”

Jen Kacere, Department of Residence Life assistant director for leadership development, said the project plays an important role on the NDSU campus.

“The development of this program continues to spread across campus to include more students, faculty, staff and community partners,” Kacere said. “It is incredible to think in just over a year more than 500 have taken the pledge. The leadership from the students has been outstanding and the impact they have created on our campus is phenomenal.”

The next Green Bandana training session is set for Tuesday, April 20, at 11:30 a.m.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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