Mental Health, Schools, and Community Trainings

By Lynn Buske, Chair of the Mental Health Task Force

Chances are, by now you have heard of the Chippewa Valley Green Bandana Project (GBP) and might even have one that you wear around town!


One of the goals of the JONAH Mental Health Task Force, when it started this tri-county collaborative project, was to support youth and expand the GBP into schools. Since the original idea was initiated on college campuses (trademarked Bandana Project, and because youth are a population with increasing mental health needs, we thought this was a good fit. 

We were recently awarded grant funding for the Eau Claire County School Connectedness Youth Improvement Initiatives! This, along with two dedicated full-time interns, is motivating us to make that connection to schools a reality. 

We have found so far that each school district, each building, each staff member, each student body, has a unique set of circumstances to work with. Some of the schools across the Chippewa Valley have made mental health a priority and have staff equipped to provide it. The Chippewa Falls School district is locally leading the way: We have started work with the Fall Creek Middle School and Northstar Middle School in EC because of student interest. We are eager to support what is happening and to do more to ensure that youth are heard and supported, and that schools that want to support mental health have the means to do so.

We are learning about other opportunities for schools, too, and slowly building relationships. We have heard that school funding is tight, which prevents schools from providing some resources they’d like to. We’d like to learn more to see if that is something JONAH can work to improve.

We feel the Green Bandana Project is something that can work with all existing schools, as it is an action that the students can do for themselves and each other, working directly to address stigma and creating a peer-supported environment. We want to help prevent the feeling that students need to solve these difficult problems alone, that there are caring adults they can connect with in their schools, and how to be a peer without needing a thorough counseling degree!


Speaking of supporting each other, we are now announcing some of our Green Bandana Trainings which help show people how they can support someone and not have to have all the answers about how mental health/illness works, and in which we can practice how the GBP is supposed to work – approaching, listening, and accepting, together. Additionally, these trainings are a place where we can share more about how Adverse Childhood Experiences impact our youth and community. And through the short “Shaping Destiny” film, adults can help build resiliency in people. This film is part of the ACES and Resiliency educational presentation, created by Mental Health Matters (a two county initiative to improve youth mental health, which JONAH has been on the steering committee for the full 8 years).

Check out our full list of trainings which is updated as more trainings are set, and see which ones work for you! Whether you need virtual or in-person, whether you already have a bandana or aren’t sure if you’re interested, whether you are looking to see the “Shaping Destiny” film or not, there are options for you! Our task force has diligently and intentionally designed this training to create a safe space for all and to be easy to digest. We promise you’ll be glad you came! 

See the list of trainings on JONAH’s website here –

Also, if you don’t see something that works for you, we encourage you to invite us to your group. We also have a toolkit if you prefer to lead your own. The training is designed simply enough that you can do that, but it is still very effective! 

As someone who has struggled with mental health challenges my whole life, I am so grateful to see this positive supportive energy brewing everywhere for all those who struggle, especially our youth. I have hope!