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New Traditions

Purdue Mental Health Action Week
A member of Purdue Student Government hands out green bandanas during Mental Health Action Week.

A new tradition focused on the well-being of students, faculty and staff has been established on campus thanks in large part to the work of students.

Purdue Student Government (PSG), in conjunction with campus partners including student groups, Purdue administration and Purdue Human Resources, hosted events and seminars to support the health and well-being of students during the fall and spring semesters. Known as Mental Health Action Week (MHAW), these activities seek to destigmatize the conversation around mental health by educating faculty, staff and students on the importance of mental health awareness, cultivating a community of care and empowering individuals with the resources they need to thrive.

MHAW was the brainchild of members of Purdue Student Government, who brought forth the need for a campus-wide initiative to raise awareness of mental health resources available to the Boilermakers. The inaugural iteration of the event was held in February 2020 and included open events for all members of the campus community.

Due to event limitations imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, each week of activities had to modified this year to include a mix of virtual and in-person events. One of the keynote events during the spring semester was a virtual student and faculty mental health town hall, which included a question-and-answer style dialogue about campus mental health resources with representatives from the LGBTQ+ Center, Recreation & Wellness, the Office of the Dean of Students, CARE, the Disability Resource Center and other units from the Office of the Provost. In-person events targeted towards undergraduate students included mindfulness exercise practices, a walk-through event on mental health education in Krach Leadership Center and opportunities for small-group discussions and activities in accordance with Protect Purdue guidelines. PSG additionally shared video messages with the student body via YouTube.

PSG partnerships with other campus organizations also helped guide conversation and direct resources to specific populations on campus. Purdue Graduate Student Government, for example, coordinated events on topics faced by the graduate student population such as parenting during a pandemic, connecting with cultural centers on campus and tips for dealing with burnout culture. Topics for staff, coordinated by Purdue Human Resources, included discussion on how to incorporate more self-care into daily life, meditation and work-life integration.

Perhaps the most visible aspect of MHAW is known as the “Green Bandana” project, an initiative to visibly show solidarity. Green bandanas are distributed and worn as a sign to show anyone who may be struggling with their mental health that they are not alone. Those with green bandanas have been identified as someone who is safe to talk to and reach out to for help.

PSG also sponsored the launch of the Boiler Wellness Ambassador program during MHAW in the spring semester. The program encourages students to attend QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training sessions to learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.

PSG expects to continue to host two Mental Health Action Weeks annually, one each during the spring and fall semester, as the organization seeks to provide students with resources and skillsets needed to prioritize well-being. Students wearing their green bandanas at the ChillZone