NDSU students show they care

NDSU students are committed to supporting each other and the community. For students like Halie Van Vleet, that includes working to end the stigma around mental health.

Van Vleet, a junior from West Fargo, North Dakota, was inspired to bring the Green Bandana Project to NDSU after hearing testimony from a student at a Residence Hall Association conference.

The project is a mental health advocacy program with chapters on college campuses across the country.

“I knew it was something that had to come to NDSU,” Van Vleet said.

To receive a bandana, individuals must complete an in-person or virtual training offered by the project throughout the year. The training educates participants on mental health awareness. Topics include recognizing signs and symptoms, reduction of stigma surrounding mental health and situational training.

Participants receive their green bandana and a small card with resources at the end of the training.

“The green bandana works as a quiet sign of solidarity to show a visual support system for anyone struggling with anything related to mental illness or mental health,” said Van Vleet, a nursing student.

Completing an associated training is unique to NDSU’s chapter. Van Vleet feels it’s important to educate before inviting difficult conversations on hard topics. She’s working with students from Yale University to nationalize the training and provide resources to other schools that want to join the project.

“Everyone in some way, shape or form is affected by mental health,” she said. “It’s way too common and way too stigmatized than it has to be. Everyone needs to be educated about it so we can stop people from struggling by themselves for so long.”

The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 900 students, faculty, staff and community members have completed the training and received a bandana.

“Students are excited and passionate and ready to learn and be engaged in advocating for mental health,” Van Vleet said. “We hear testimonies from students that say, ‘I’ve reached out to somebody with a green bandana, and it’s been life-changing.’”

The project also hosts events throughout the year to bring mental health awareness to NDSU. In October, Kevin Hines, an author and speaker, came to campus. Hines attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and now travels the nation to give presentations on mental health issues. More than 300 people attended the event.

“We’re excited to do more things like that, hopefully, in the future,” Van Vleet said.

Apply now to join NDSU’s caring community.