The national “Seize the Awkward” campaign, which was launched in 2018 to help start the uncomfortable conversations about suicide in teens and young adults, has released its latest public service announcement, “We Can Talk About It” to help continue that conversation.
The latest effort, from the Ad Council, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Jed Foundation and Droga5, encourages those aged 16 to 24 to start conversations around mental health with friends, promote mental wellness and reduce the risk and rate of suicide among young adults.
According to new data from the CDC, the suicide rate among young people aged 15 to 24 rose 8% in 2021, the highest increase among any age group. In addition, Black and Latinx people in the U.S. are less likely to receive mental health care, and their experiences of racism and discrimination can exacerbate mental health struggles.
“We Can Talk About It” shows a diverse group of young people in different troubling situations, driven by the insight that young people are surrounded by harmful messages around mental health. We see them receiving texts that say “It’s all in your head” and being told that they should just get over it. The spots encourage young adults to break through the stigma and reach out to friends who may be struggling and start conversations.
“We know the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of our teens and young adults. That’s why the ‘Seize the Awkward’ campaign, which provides guidance for friends supporting one another, is more important than ever,” said AFSP CEO Bob Gebbia in a statement. “And we are pleased that the latest campaign ads place emphasis on reaching Black and Hispanic/Latine youth who are struggling.”
JED CEO John MacPhee added that Black and Latinx youth face additional challenges in accessing the care they deserve. “As mental health leaders for our country’s youth, we are responsible for providing resources that address the unique challenges that all young people face while advocating for increased equity in mental health,” he said in a statement.
The campaign aims to give all young adults with accessible and relatable information to help talk about mental health with friends, and the spots direct audiences to SeizeTheAwkward.org for more resources.
Droga5 made a point to address racism and toxic masculinity in its latest effort for the campaign.
“Our film took a frank look at how the pressures of racism, masculinity and toxic positivity can affect mental health and let all youth know that the first step is reaching out to a friend to talk about how they’re feeling,” said Kevin Brady, executive creative director, Droga5, in a statement.