"We talk about how mental health issues are bigger than us, high school students. It affects our parents, siblings, friends–it affects everyone."
On Saturday August 3rd, led by two sister Green Ribbon Club chapters in Grand Junction, Colorado, a community came together to march against the stigma of mental illness. Along with speeches from GRC Club Presidents Tate Menon and Kate Hayde and GRC CEO Nikki Daurio and an actual march, the event inspired people of all generations to engage in difficult, yet important conversations about mental health. Grand Junction, CO is a community that has a significantly higher rate of suicide than the national average. This event, along with the amazing work done by our clubs at Grand Junction High School and Palisade Senior High School, proves that no statistic can stop a community from coming together to march toward healing and change.
GRC Editor-in-Chief Will D'Epagnier caught up with Kate and Tatum to discuss this community's watershed moment.
GRC Club Presidents Kate Hayde, Tatum Menon leading the march with GRC CEO Nikki Daurio.
What inspired you to plan this event?
Kate: Mental health has been a very big issue where we live. We wanted to show the impact that it has on our students, parents, families.
Tatum: We've seen a lot of marches. From the Women's March to March For Our Lives, our community was supportive of those marches. We thought it would be a good idea to have a march for an issue related to our community specifically.
Will: People are definitely more inspired now more than ever to march, protest, and speak up about issues that they care about. While there are marches to end suicide, your march focused on ending the stigma on mental health, which is an important issue in itself.
Kate: Our club is just a group of high school students. We wanted to show the rest of the community–especially those who don't work with students–the impact mental illness has on students.
Was there anything that happened that surprised you during the event?
Tatum: We were expecting to see mainly high school students and younger people, but we had quite a few people from other organizations and ages come. It was great to see people of all generations there.
(GRC CEO Nikki Daurio delivers an emotional speech)
How would you describe the atmosphere of the event? Did it feel like people were coming to terms with the mental health issues your community faces?
Kate: Tatum and I didn't really know what the vibe would necessarily be. We were really nervous, but overall, it was pretty uplifting. There were times when it got more serious, specifically when Nikki (GRC's CEO) spoke. That speech really hit home with a lot of people.
(GRC and community members gather, embracing positivity and unity!)
What would say to people in other communities who are interested in planning a Stopping the Stigma Stride?
Kate: The meetings we have in our club are super important. We talk about how mental health issues are bigger than us, high school students. It affects our parents, siblings, friends–it affects everyone. Planning an event is a really good way to get the word out to people who wouldn't be involved in the club.
Tatum: We got a lot of media coverage in our community so a lot of people heard about the march. We got people talking which is just as important as the march itself.
Do you have any future plans to help your community?
Kate: Right now, we're just going back to our plan. But we are gonna start soon brainstorming for our next event. We learned a lot from our march, so our next event will definitely be really awesome!
(The Green Ribbon Club table included doughnuts, a sign-up club sheet, resources, and merch!)
We are so proud of Kate, Tatum, and the Grand Junction clubs and community for speaking up about mental illness and catalyzing change for the future!