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Student Mental Health Advocate Awards

Depression Center Executive Director John Greden, with Awardees Piper Keyes (L) and Mariah Williams (R), and Will
Heininger, a 2011 U-M graduate, four-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner, and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, who presented the awards.

To recognize outstanding student leadership in the area of campus mental health, the University of Michigan initiated the Student Mental Health Advocate Award in 2007. The undergraduate and graduate students who have been nominated from across the country have all made a significant impact in their campus communities by raising awareness of mental health issues, advocating for mental health services on campus, and helping to reduce the stigma of depressive illnesses.

2013 Award Winners

Piper Keyes

Neuroscience B.S. 2013
Psychology M.S. 2014
University of Michigan

For the past two years, Piper has provided progressive leadership for the student organization Students For Recovery (SFR). She is committed to making the U-M campus a more inclusive and safe place for students who are in recovery, and who are trying to stay healthy and well.

Piper is also committed to building a strong community, and has given her time generously to participate in the work that helped set the foundation for the establishment of the U-M Collegiate Recovery Program at University Health Service. The Collegiate Recovery Program offers a supportive community within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to disengage from addictive behaviors, as well as educational opportunities alongside recovery support, to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

Piper is smart, kind, funny and compassionate, and has been a wonderful advocate for students in recovery, serving as President of SFR for the 2012-2013 academic year, and as Treasurer in 2011-2012. In addition, Piper has organized and participated in service projects for the group, such as cooking dinner for residents at Dawn Farm (a local recovery program), volunteering for Salvation Army, and speaking to sororities and classes on campus about how students are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. She has also organized and participated in social events for students in recovery, including sober events on St. Patrick’s Day, bowling and ice skating on weekends, and
sober gatherings to watch U of M football games.

Overall, Piper clearly exemplifies the qualities you are seeking in a Student Mental Health Advocate Award recipient.

Nominated by:

Mary Jo Desprez, MA, Director, Health Promotion and Community Relations, Alcohol and Other Drug
Policy and Prevention Administrator, University Health Service, University of Michigan

Matt Statman, Program Manager, University of Michigan Collegiate Recovery Program, University
Health Service, University of Michigan


Mariah Williams

Senior, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)
Major: Political Science Minor: International Relations

Mariah Williams is a trailblazer and true mental health advocate. Attending the largest HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the United States, Mariah has single-handedly taken on the challenge of bringing mental health awareness to her peers. From a study using a nationally representative sample, we know that Black youth were substantially less likely than White youth to have used a mental health service in the year during which they seriously thought about or attempted suicide. Mariah is addressing this issue in a variety of ways.

On campus, she started an Active Minds chapter and is working as a peer educator through FAMU’s Counseling Center. Mariah has led a number of campus-wide campaigns, including increasing awareness for over 1,000 students about the direct connection between HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, substance abuse, and mental health. She also educated over 3,000 students on both the physical health and mental health disparities that exist for women of color. This past fall, Mariah garnered university support for “Send Silence Packing”—a large-scale suicide awareness program—to
educate FAMU students on depression and suicide. Thousands of students were
impacted by the program, and pledged to continue the dialogue about depression and
suicide longer-term.

Moving beyond FAMU, Mariah creates and hosts national webinars via the HBCU Center for Excellence, which aims to educate HBCU campuses throughout the country about peer education, mental health outreach, and prevention. She also serves as one of three students on a national behavioral health steering committee of twenty consultants and government officials with Morehouse School of Medicine and SAMHSA. As a student on this committee, Mariah implements strategies around HBCU student leadership development, emotional intelligence and career opportunities for the Lonnie E. Mitchell Behavioral Health Academy. Mariah has shown significant dedication to mental health education on topics ranging from depression to health disparities, and
stands out among her peers in her commitment to these issues.

Nominated by:

Rachael Datz, Southern Regional Chapter Manager, Active Minds, Inc.