League sophomore raises mental health awareness with Project Bandana


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Editor’s Note: This article contains references to suicide and sexual assault.

Syracuse University sophomore Elizabeth Kot was diagnosed with anorexia in June. Throughout the summer, she was on outpatient treatment and worked with a team of therapists and nutritionists each week to develop meal plans and develop strategies for her disorder. She described her recovery process as “time consuming, thoughtful and balanced”.

Kot said anorexia had taken a toll on his mental health as well. So when she returned to campus this fall, she wanted to help her peers have their own mental health experiences. She presented on campus an organization called The Bandana Project, which revolves around suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

The Bandana Project is a national organization that began in 2016 on the University of Madison-Wisconsin campus and has now reached over 40 other colleges. Members of the organization tie a green bandana to their backpacks and carry mental health resource cards to hand out to anyone they may see in difficulty. Bandanas are an “unspoken” and “easy” way to show support for those who may be in trouble, Kot said.

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When Kot pitched the idea of ​​bringing the project to the League at the Student Association, sophomore Yasmin Nayrouz, vice president of university affairs at SA, volunteered to help. The project covers many mental health issues besides suicide, such as sexual assault and incidents of stigma, Nayrouz said. She said she wanted to use the project to end the stigma surrounding these traumatic cases.

“It takes a lot for someone to become vulnerable,” Nayrouz said. “There is a lot of stigma around sexual assault and the trauma associated with it. There are a lot of negative comments related to survivors, and it can certainly affect the mental health of those survivors. ”

Nayrouz hopes students with mental health issues will feel more supported when they notice green bandanas as they walk around campus, and the bandanas spark conversations about mental health and resources on campus.

So far, the Syracuse Chapter has 20 people registered to become members and has held two introductory sessions at the Schine Student Center, where the group has handed out bandanas and resource cards. The cards contain national resource phone numbers and campus resource information for the Barnes Center at The Arch board, the dean of the student office, and the Department of Public Safety. The project is not a registered student organization at this point, but Kot hopes it will be by the time she graduates.

There are a lot of negative comments related to survivors, and it can certainly affect the mental health of those survivors.

Yasmin Nayrouz, second year SU student

This year is the perfect time to implement new mental health resources on campus due to the long-term effects of the pandemic following students’ feelings of isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 peak, said Kot.

“When you’re on your own, you get a lot of stuff into your head,” said sophomore Isabelle Duke. “You feel lonely, you get depressed, you feel anxiety about certain things. Asking students to start these clubs and reach out says a lot about the people who go to Syracuse. “

Even with vaccines and fewer restrictions this year, Kot said COVID-19 has had an impact on the mental health of students. Many students still feel tired and overwhelmed by the stress of the past two years. But even without the challenges of the pandemic, Kot said the transition to a new academic environment can be taxing on mental health.

The Bandana Project will continue to organize events at Schine once or twice a month to help students with mental health issues by providing information on topics such as suicide awareness and the impacts of COVID-19 on the Mental Health. Besides helping others, Kot said the project has been a good outlet for her so far this year.

“I’m very proud of myself for being able to use my experience and make it a goal to help others,” Kot said. “It helped me too.”

DISCLAIMER: Yasmin Nayrouz was a writer for The Daily Orange. Since taking a position in the Students’ Association, she has not contributed to The DO, and therefore does not influence the editorial content of The DO



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