Active Minds expands with Green Bandana, End the Stigma patches

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Active Minds President Abby Sheaff (left) and secretary Alicia Howe led a livestream on Feb. 11 to talk about the organization and its goals. Among their early efforts are the launch of the Green Bandana Project and a custom police badge to support mental health and fund future events. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

One of the newest chapters of Active Minds has debuted two new programs to end the stigma of mental illness and offer help to those in need.

This week, Abby Sheaff and Alicia Hawe—president and secretary of the North Attleborough High School chapter—presented a livestream to talk about the Green Bandana Project.

This nationwide initiative provides students with a card that has a pledge to create a supportive environment and help one another. There is also a list of mental health programs, and a green bandana that they can wear as an indicator that they can be approached with mental health related needs. The project works to spread awareness of resources for those with mental health-related struggles.

Sheaff said that response has been good, with a number of her classmates wearing the bandana on their heads, in their hair, or tied to their bags.

The bandanna shows the solidarity and support the school will provide,” said Sheaff on Thursday, Feb. 11. “Those with the bandana, it shows that this person is safe to talk to.”

Sheaff said that this school year has been a challenging one for students, with some learning remotely and others only in school two days a week. Many events and programs have been suspended, and some are dealing with feelings of isolation.

It’s hard to talk about,” said Sheaff. “Everyone has mental health, and it’s important to talk about. We really want to start the conversation.”

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness among college students, via peer-to-peer dialogue and interaction. It was founded by Alison Malmon in 2003, after her older brother died by suicide in 2000. There are now more than 500 chapters, made up of national and international high schools and colleges.

In addition to the Green Bandana Project, the chapter has created custom North Attleborough Police badges with the messages of “End the Stigma” and “Mental Health Matters” as part of the design. The design was done by NAHS student Emilie Rivera, and the money raised from their purchase will support future Active Minds events.

School Resource Officer Kristine Crosman said that what students have been dealing with are similar to those of police officers during the pandemic. The result is a community effort to bring light to this issue.

The community hopes to make this a priority,” said Crosman.

Sheaff hopes to do more livestreams in the future, and a paint night and podcast to discuss these issues may happen as well. Crosman credited the chapter for their work, which she said is entirely student-driven.

The drive to make a difference is what drives the project,” said Crosman.

For more information on Active Minds and the Green Bandana Project, visit www.activeminds.org and www.foundation2.org/services/the-green-bandana-project.

North Star Reporter Intern Mia Gomes contributed to this report.