After Conlin Bass lost a friend and an uncle to suicide while he was in high school, he got involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Bass’s work with the organization helped him realize how widespread mental illness is, so when he started school at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, he was determined to find a way to raise awareness about mental health.

Bass got the idea to start The Bandana Project while talking to a friend at another university. Their professor had recently lost a son to suicide, and the class wore white bandanas on their backpacks to show support. The Bandana Project volunteers wear a lime green bandana on their backpacks to signal that they are willing to be a mental health resource and that they are carrying cards containing contact information for campus and local mental health support organizations. The bandanas also help make mental health more prominent on campus, and Bass hopes this will help remove some of the stigma around talking about mental health or seeking assistance for mental health issues.

The Bandana Project has been spreading to other campuses around the United States. To learn more about how Bass started the movement, check out the Verona Press article, “VAHS grad leads mental health awareness movement at UW-Madison” or visit The Bandana Project’s UW-NAMI website.