Our View Cartoon 10/1

The year 2020 is the year from hell. Rarely has normal life been upended on such a massive scale. The economy is in free-fall, a pandemic is raging and a new natural disaster upends the lives of millions of Americans seemingly daily.

The multitude of crises has had a strain on us mentally. 

Mental health issues should always be at the forefront of discussions, but they are of even more significance at this time. This is why spending $1 for a simple piece of green cloth is a crucial step towards aiding the mental health crisis and reducing perceived stigma surrounding mental health that all Bearcats should take.

The “Green Bandana” campaign promoted by Northwest's Active Minds chapter is aimed at getting students involved in helping the mental health crisis facing college campuses across the U.S. The premise is simple: a person can donate $1 to the organization and they will receive a bandana, a button and some cards with information about mental health resources. It’s a way to crowdsource mental health outreach and signify that people aren’t alone in their struggles. 

As the mental health crisis rears its ugly head, college students are one of the groups most affected. Three-fourths of all mental health issues appear before the age of 24, and 39% of college students will experience a significant mental health issue, according to Active Minds' official website. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among young adults and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. overall. And with COVID-19, it’s getting worse.

While it’s important and often easier to remember the economic and physical impacts of the coronavirus, the pandemic is causing a surge in mental health issues. Almost half of Americans say the pandemic is negatively affecting their mental health, with nearly 20% seeing it as having a “major impact,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Calls to mental health help hotlines and the use of online counseling services are all up during the pandemic.

It was highlighted in this newspaper that even prior to the pandemic Wellness Services was understaffed and overwhelmed when it came to helping mental health on campus. This is why the “Green Bandana” is crucial to helping students on this campus.

The campaign is a simple way to let others know that you care about them and their well-being. While more studies need to be conducted, there has been a correlation drawn between an increase in stigma and an increase in suicide rates, according to the National Institute of Health. 

Recently, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott opened up about his struggle with mental health after his brother’s apparent suicide in April. Prescott received a wave of support for speaking up, but there was one very notable detractor. Professional talking head — and buffoon — Skip Bayless criticized Prescott saying he was showing “weakness” by being candid about his struggles. Bayless’s comments, while unbelievably moronic, are evidence of how even though it has become acceptable to many to share your struggles with mental health, there is still progress to be made.

The simple piece of green cloth tied around a backpack is not an instant fix-all for ending mental health stigma, nor is it trying to be. It’s a sign of solidarity. It shows those struggling with mental health that they are not alone and that they are not weak because of their struggles. Hopefully, the display of the bandana will lead more Bearcats to feel welcomed, loved and respected even in their struggles. 

Bearcats Care doesn’t just mean standing 72 inches from someone while wearing a mask; it means caring for their mental health as well. And if it means spending a mere dollar to show a fellow student you care for them and want to help, it is well worth the cost. 

For those interested in getting a green bandana email activeminds@nwmissouri.edu.

Anyone who struggles with mental health can call the national suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255. Students can also reach the Northwest Wellness Center at 660-562-1348.

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