UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
A UW-River Falls Foundation outreach campaign to promote a supportive environment for students suffering with symptoms of depression and anxiety by empowering fellow students as advocates for their wellbeing.
I will listen if you need to talk to someone. I will talk to someone if I need to be listened to. I will help you find a counselor when you need more than listening. I will find a counselor when I need more than to be listened to.
I will be accepting. I will be honest. I will see a person in need of support.
With this pledge, I am declaring support for those suffering with depression and/or anxiety. You can talk with me. I want to help. You are way too important to feel alone today.
If you visit the UW-River Falls campus, you will see numerous white bandanas tied to student backpacks as a sign of support for those suffering from depression and anxiety. Dan's Bandana Project began in the spring of 2014 as an outreach campaign that also commemorates the life of Daniel Gerbec, a college student whose quiet suffering caused him to take his own life in September of 2012. His mother, Betsy Gerbec, senior biology lecturer at UW-River Falls, said there was little warning. Dan tried to seek help, but it came too late.
The project started as a way for Betsy to do something concrete to prevent suicide on campus. The bandanas make students, staff, and faculty visible resources for those suffering. They serve as emblems to help students feel supported and find advocates for their well being.
Dan's Bandanas is promoted at freshman orientation and health fairs on campus. More than 300 students joined the project during the spring health fair in 2014, and the number continues to grow. Those who display the bandanas also take a pledge to listen or talk, help or find help, be honest and accepting, and declare support for those suffering with depression and/or anxiety.
"I started this project because I know there are students on campus who, like Dan, are suffering from depression and anxiety. They need to know we are supporting them and that there is help, good help, available to them," said Betsy. "Maybe if Dan had seen a campus full of bandanas indicating support and help, he might have found peace with himself long before it came to that night in September."
Various grants and donations make the project possible. In 2014, Corporate Apparel and Printing in River Falls generously provided white bandanas at cost, printed them free of charge, and matched the initial order of 200. "We love the concept of the bandana project, not only that there is help available, but that everyone needs to be helpful," said Robert Payne, technical manager and co-owner of the company.
A Student Health Services mini grant, as well as generous financial support from donors such as Nick and Inga Karolides helped finance the outreach initiatives. If you would like to donate, visit the UWRF Foundation Page, select "Other," and type in "Dan's Bandana Project." You can also call the Foundation at 877-258-6647.