Green bandana on student's backpack demonstrates willingness to seem informed on mental health issues

Courtesy Stella Porter - Badger Herald

Courtesy Stella Porter - Badger Herald

Earlier this week, freshman english major Summer Beuford showed her support for The Bandana Project by tieing a lime green bandana to her backpack. The project, run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness at UW, encourages students to tie a green bandana to their backpacks to let others know that they’re a safe space completely open to any and all hypothetical conversations about mental illness.

“I think it’s such good cause” Beuford said. “It makes me feel so good about myself thinking of all the imaginary help I’m providing people through all the hypothetical encounters I have everyday. I honestly can’t believe the difference I’m making.”

Beuford reported that she and all of her Lakeshore floormates decided to join the project after seeing a group of people with green bandanas tied to their backpacks on campus. After each purchased the bandanas, Beuford and her friends returned home to Google their significance.

“Thankfully, no one has actually tried to talk to me or my friends about mental illness,” Beuford said. “I guess that must mean that mental illness isn’t that big of a problem on campus anymore. Wow these bandanas work fast! Besides, I feel like [approaching me to discuss them] would be a violation of my space, and I don’t think that’s what this project is really about.”

Beuford’s roommate, Suzie Caldwell, said she thinks its core message is to help people suffering from mental illness to be able know what people they can imagine getting imaginary support from.

In addition, Caldwell’s sister, self-proclaimed “ally” Jeannie Caldwell, claims that the bandana can speak for itself.

“No matter where I am or what time of day it is, I am always open to giving you hypothetical advice through good vibes and nonverbal communication,” Jeannie Caldwell said. “And if anyone were to actually approach me about mental illness, just know that I am one hundred percent comfortable telling you to go talk to a professional instead.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosts bi-weekly meetings to help raise awareness and fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. They also have volunteer opportunities for students to further help the cause. Beuford says she will almost always direct people to this organization, but does not have the contact information for them offhand. Moreover, she claims “we don’t do meetings, we aren’t qualified to conduct those, as we are merely 18-year olds who don’t know our social security numbers yet.”

In addition to having the bandana tied to her backpack, Summer also raises awareness for mental illness by telling everyone that she has a green bandana tied to her backpack, letting everyone know how good of a person she is. Overall, she says she’s excited for the future of the project, and even more excited to take credit for getting all of her friends into the project.

“I think what we’re doing is really special. Honestly though, I can’t wait to be able to take the bandana off,” Suzie Caldwell said. “I bought this really cool keychain the other day but it doesn’t really go with lime green.”