Verona Victoria is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Psychology and Sociology. Verona joined student government in Spring of 2019 as a Senator-At-Large and currently serves as the Director of Health & Safety for the 2020-21 school year. In her role, she works to provide students with resources, programming, and information relating to health and safety concerns at the University of Iowa and in the surrounding community. One of her main projects this semester is to spread mental health awareness on-campus with the Green Bandana Project! Read our interview with Verona to learn about the Green Bandana Project and how you can get involved:
What is the Green Bandana Project?
The Green Bandana Project is a student-led program designed to spread awareness of resources for those with a mental illness or struggling with a mental health crisis to promote a culture of care on our campus. When a student carries a green bandana, it indicates that they are informed with relevant resources and are able to help. All bandana carriers are trained through completion of KOGNITO training, an online simulation that builds awareness, knowledge, and skills about mental health and suicide prevention.
How can students get involved with the Green Bandana Project?
We'd appreciate your support. Take the pledge here to support and empower those struggling with mental illness and to sign up for more information regarding receiving your Green Bandana.
How was the Green Bandana Project created?
The Green Bandana Project originated on the University of Wisconsin's campus in Madison, Wisconsin to promote a stigma-free and supportive environment for conversations surrounding mental health. This initiative was adopted by USG in the 2019-2020 administration under the Health and Safety Committee.
What would the Green Bandana Project look like on campus, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The goal is that when you see a student carrying a green bandana, it's an indicator that they are informed with relevant resources and can help. However, with COVID guidelines, a lot of students aren't as mobile as they traditionally would walking around campus. What we've decided to do this year is distribute bandanas through mail or through available pick-up locations, after interested students sign a pledge. Additionally, since the majority of classes and communication are taking place virtually, we're also planning on providing a green bandana icon for participants to download for their email signature, as a virtual equivalent to the green bandanas.
Why do you think that Green Bandana Project is important/beneficial for students at Iowa?
While the overarching goals of the GBP are to encourage having difficult conversations, raise awareness for mental health issues, and take a step towards destigmatizing mental health, it specifically focuses on suicide prevention. This is relevant because it shines a light on a difficult topic that we either have heard about or have a personal connection to. Regardless, how can we be proactive and engage in prevention, especially within the collegiate context? Students are able to receive training and attain foundational skills in communicating appropriately should they ever find themselves in a position with someone under mental health distress. Additionally, students are able to learn more about campus resources that they can utilize themselves or refer others to!
How is Green Bandana Project apart of your role in student government?
As the Director of Health and Safety, my role spans a lot of domains, from being aware of campus safety, student wellness, mental health awareness, and more. The GBP is one way through which we can advocate for mental health awareness, specifically focusing on suicide prevention.
How did you get involved in your role in student government?
A few of my peers had either previously been or were actively involved with Student Government. Through hearing about their experiences about student advocacy, connecting with administrators and faculty, and working on various initiatives, I thought it would be a good opportunity to challenge myself and experience new things! I knew I wanted to work in the realm of Health and Safety because it's critical for student wellness and academic success and because of the opportunity to work with campus partners such as UCS, Student Health, and Student Wellness.
Thank you to Verona Victoria for her time spent answering our questions via email!
Find more information about the Green Bandana Project on our website here.
If you have questions or comments, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!