College student leaders across West Virginia launch Green Bandana Initiative to create greater visibility for student mental health
CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia’s Advisory Council of Students (ACS), which comprises student government representatives from each of the state’s public colleges and universities, has launched the West Virginia Green Bandana Initiative, which is shining a brighter light on student mental health on campuses statewide. Through the initiative, students who complete mental health training this spring receive green bandanas that, when displayed on their backpacks or elsewhere, signal to other students that they are open to talking and are a source of support.
According to a recent national survey, two-thirds (67 percent) of college students say that they have faced mental or emotional issues over the past 12 months. The same report found that if a student is facing a serious mental health issue, they are most likely to turn first to a peer for support.
“Mental health of students can be detrimental to their ability to succeed in college, which is why the Advisory Council of Students set mental health as one of our goals,” said ACS Chair, Alyssa Parks, Student Body President at Marshall University. “Many students feel that there needs to be more mental health resources and it’s important to try to find innovative ways to provide more especially since the pandemic may limit budgets. The Green Bandana Initiative was a way to provide easily accessible peer resources for mental health on campuses across the state.”
Through the West Virginia Collegiate Initiative to Advance Healthy Campus Communities, certified trainers are facilitating the training opportunities, which began in late February and are continuing through the spring semester. In total, 30 trainings have been made possible, providing the opportunity for hundreds of students to register and increase their knowledge and skills in talking with their peers about mental health. In support of the initiative, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Wheeling received a grant to purchase 2,000 green bandanas to distribute to the 18 participating college campuses.
Already, the initiative has garnered significant interest from students at participating campuses. Throughout the spring semester, student groups are working to create awareness around the training opportunities on their campuses, as well as the community-based resources available to help train their peers. This student-led initiative is also opening the door for ongoing opportunities for campuses, non-profit mental health organizations, and state agencies to strengthen their collaboration efforts to impact student mental health.
For more information on West Virginia Green Bandana Initiative, including a list of upcoming training opportunities, visit https://www.wvhepc.edu/west-virginia-advisory-council-of-students/green-bandana-initiative/.
The ACS and its initiatives are supported by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System.