The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) has recently launched an initiative called "The Bandana Project," which will show solidarity with students suffering from mental illnesses.
The project distributes green bandanas to students on campus, which can be tied to backpacks as an open demonstration of support for those suffering from mental illnesses.
The bandanas will also serve as indicators that the wearer is carrying resource cards with information about mental health resources on and off-campus. The resources on the card include Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), Scarlet Listeners, Rutgers University Dean of Student Offices, National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Do Something. There are currently several representatives from RUSA wearing these bandanas across campus.
The initiative is headed by Chairwoman of RUSA’s Health and Wellness Committee Hinita Patel, as well as sponsored by RUSA's Executive Committee.
“The presence of mental illness has significantly risen on college campuses. Suicide is the second leading cause of death, after traffic accidents, among college students," Patel said to The Daily Targum.
There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses annually in the United States before graduation. One in 10 students will have considered suicide and 1 in 4 of those students will not seek help or treatment, Patel said.
“The stigma around mental health prevents those who struggle with mental health issues from seeking treatment, and approachable students spreading awareness of resources for their fellow students with mental illnesses can help to fight and end that stigma,” she said.
Patel was inspired to undertake the project after hearing about its success on other Big Ten campuses like the University of Wisconsin—Madison. It distributed 6,000 bandanas on campus for the Fall 2018 semester, she said.
“I did some research on the other Big Ten universities that participated in this project and I thought it would be a great initiative to bring to Rutgers considering the fact that this is a huge school with countless students affected by mental health issues,” Patel said.
She said she believes Rutgers students recognize the importance of mental health, and their willingness to stand in solidarity with their fellow peers with mental health issues will be both touching and impactful.
“Rutgers students recognize the importance of mental health and their willingness to stand in solidarity with their fellow peers with mental health issues is both touching and impactful. I predict The Bandana Project will continue to grow and be a successful, ongoing initiative," Patel said.