Augustana College senior Haley DeGreve has received the George Orley Student Mental Health Advocate Award through the University of Michigan Depression Center.
The award was established by the Orley Family after their son George lost his battle with depression in 2013.
The Moline native was one of two winners from across the nation this year, and was recognized for her work creating The Gray Matters Collective. The movement, an Augustana poster campaign to highlight the stigma around mental health and encourage mental health awareness, started in January 2019. The posters are now posted across campus featuring current students and their perspectives.
“I’ve always been extremely passionate about mental health because I’ve seen myself and a lot of my close friends struggle,” said DeGreve. “In three weeks, we got 60 students to participate in the poster campaign to create mental health awareness, but that was only the start. On February 5, 2019, we had our first event on campus. In the middle of an ice storm, over 200 students and all media outlets in the Quad Cities showed up – we even ran out of seats.”
DeGreve is “a fierce advocate and leader,” according to Farrah Roberts, Augustana’s Director of Student Well-Being and Resiliency. “She has created a movement to empower her peers to share their voices and stories.”
Roberts continued, “She has also partnered closely with faculty and administration to effectively advocate for needed resources on campus.”
DeGreve embodies her movement’s slogan, “You matter, your mental health matters, The Gray Matters.”
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, DeGreve was unable to accept the award in person at an event scheduled for March in Ann Arbor, Mich. She also received $1,000 to help fund a student organization, and she’s been invited to the 2021 Depression on College Campuses Conference to receive the award in Ann Arbor.
DeGreve plans to continue her work with a TEDx Talk on suicide prevention, and she’s partnering with Foster’s Voice Suicide Awareness and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Gray Matters Collective will continue on and off campus.
She says, “If we all use our voices, stand, and heal together – we can work to stop suicide in our communities.