Dogs and green bandanas part of Mental Illness Awareness Week event


Oliver the husky pup helps Nami On Campus and the ISU PD handed out green bandannas and cards with mental health emergency numbers to students in front of the library Oct. 4. Oliver is the club’s mascot and helps get people involved with Nami on Campus’ mission is to address mental health issues on campus. 

Thomas Hugo

Dozens of students gathered in the free speech zone outside of Parks Library to pet dogs sporting light green bandanas. These pups served a greater purpose than just being adorable, they were supporting a cause.

The Iowa State Police Department partnered with the student organization National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) on campus to promote The Green Bandana Project during Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Iowa State Police officers, along with members from Iowa State’s NAMI organization, including their four-legged mascot Oliver and his friend Amelia, have been handing out green bandanas and contact cards outside of Parks Library.

The green bandanas are part of The Bandana Project put on by NAMI at Iowa State. The goal of the project is to raise awareness, break down stigmas surrounding mental illness and help students find resources if they find themself or someone else in a crisis.

When students agree to take the bandana and tie it around their backpack, they are showing solidarity towards those suffering from mental illness. After the bandana is tied, the student is given a contact card with phone numbers to resources and information about mental illness crises.

Deputy Chief Carrie Jacobs was one of the Iowa State police officers handing out bandanas and talking to students.

Jacobs said, regarding Mental Health Awareness Week and the Bandana Project, “We want students and staff members to know that we care. We understand it’s a stressful world.”

The Iowa State police want students and staff members to come to them as a safe resource, Jacobs said.

Before coming to Ames, Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton was board president of NAMI in Wisconsin. Newton is currently the advisor for NAMI ISU.

“The green bandana represents that you’re a safe resource to come to, to get mental health cards or information,” Newton said. “It’s a way to reduce stigma.”

NAMI came to Iowa State in spring of 2016. The organization focuses on educating students about mental illness, ending stigmas and providing resources to those who need them, according to NAMI ISU President Leah Beman, a junior in elementary education.

Beman became involved with NAMI due to her own experiences with mental illness.

“In high school, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic attack disorder and agoraphobia,” Beman said, “and I realized how much stigma actually surrounded mental health … and so I realized coming into college it was something that I really wanted to focus on.”

One of the main goals of NAMI is making sure students dealing with mental illness don’t feel alone, according to NAMI Treasurer Micaela Price, senior in psychology.

NAMI holds meetings the second Tuesday of each month. A typical meeting includes a guest speaker, information about mental health resources on campus and free food. This upcoming Tuesday, Karen Rosengreen, director of the Hope Wellness Center, will be the guest speaker at NAMI’s meeting.

NAMI ISU can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as ISU NAMI on campus. 

They post updates about meetings, events and other activities related to NAMI and mental health awareness. 

Both NAMI and the Iowa State Police department encourage students to contact them if they ever need assistance in dealing with mental illness.