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By Jeremy Fallis

2020 George Orley Student Mental Health Advocate Award Recipients Announced

Award Winners Orley 2020Although the 2020 Depression on College Campuses Conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U-M Depression Center nevertheless awarded a pair of worthy students the George Orley Student Mental Health Advocate Award.

The 2020 awardees, Hannah Connors of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and Haley DeGreve of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, each received a certificate and $1,000 for the student organization of their choice. As colleges and universities have moved online and uncertainty abounds, both students have continued to find creative ways to support themselves and others.

Haley ConnorsAbout Hannah Connors
A public policy major slated to graduate this spring, Connors is the executive director of the Wolverine Support Network. Moreover, Connors is a research assistant and study coordinator for the Healthy Minds Network in the U-M School of Public Health, where she is working to develop a pilot study of mental and emotional health in secondary schools. Through a partnership with optiMize, she has helped develop a “mental health track” within their existing social innovation challenge.

"The best leaders lead by example and Hannah Connors does just that,” said Kelsey Gillhooley, U-M alumna and content marketing specialist at Talkspace, who nominated Connors. “Beyond all of the work she does through mental health programs, the incredible person she is speaks volumes. Hannah is attentive to each and every person she leads in and out of WSN and spends time forming meaningful connections with everyone around her. Her kindness and ability to empathize go unmatched, she’s truly the most outstanding leader in the mental health initiatives on campus.”

“I am continuing to support mental health on campus through my work with Wolverine Support Network, where we have transitioned our 30 weekly support groups to a virtual format,” Connors said. “I am also brainstorming other ways WSN can foster community and connection virtually in this time of social distancing. For my own mental health, I am going on long walks every day, calling my friends, and journaling so I can process this unprecedented moment in history.”

About Haley DeGreve
DeGreve is a senior at Augustana majoring in business administration/marketing and communications study. DeGreve created The Gray Matters movement on campus to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness among her peers and start conversations about the gray area between mental health awareness and mental health stigma. As part of that campaign, students launched a poster campaign featuring other students with their own words about mental health, stigma and hope. Over 200 students and community members attended an unveiling of the posters amid an ice storm this past February.

“Haley is a fierce advocate and leader on campus,” said Farrah Roberts, the director of student well-being and resiliency at Augustana. “She has not only created a movement to empower her peers to share their voices and stories, but provided a safe place for them as well. As Haley says, ‘you matter, your mental health matters, The Gray Matters’.”

“I believe we still need community, now more than ever,” DeGreve said. “One way we are hoping to do this through The Gray Matters is through Facebook Live, sharing positive articles, hotline numbers, a new self-harm awareness video, and being available for each person who reaches out. We are also trying our best to coordinate resources for people in these circumstances. A lot of counseling services have now gone virtual, so we are trying to keep people aware and up-to-date on the situation and what they can do at home to build stronger resiliency and overall wellness.”

Connors and DeGreve will be invited to next year’s Depression on College Campuses Conference along with the 2021 George Orley Student Advocate Award winners. That conference will be held March 9-10, 2021, in Ann Arbor.

About the George Orley Student Mental Health Advocate Award
Made possible through the generous support of Randy and Diane Orley of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, along with their children Amanda and Sam Orley, the award is named to honor the memory of Randy and Diane’s son and Amanda and Sam’s brother George, who lost his battle with depression prior to his junior year at the University of Michigan in August 2013. Undergraduate and graduate students are nominated from across the country for this prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding student leadership in the area of campus mental health.