Mental health is not a topic many people find easy to talk about. Whether you’re struggling with your own mental health and want to ask for help, or you notice that a friend or loved one is having a difficult time but don’t know how to approach the subject, discussing mental health can feel like an impossible task. Thankfully, a new campaign is helping people identify opportunities to start a conversation about it.
Created in partnership with the advertising agency Droga5, the Jed Foundation (JED), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Ad Council, ‘Seize The Awkward’ is a new campaign aimed at helping people aged 16 to 24 start conversations with their friends about mental health. And its powerful message is one that can also help adults who are unsure of how to support loved ones.
Broadway actor Gideon Glick stars in a PSA that focuses on teens in the midst of awkward silences. The lighthearted campaign shows people sitting silently on a couch, hanging out in hot tub, standing side by side at urinals, laying in bed with a partner, and being in the middle of a promposal that isn’t going well. And then Glick pops up literally in the middle of the awkward silences and suggests using these moments to start difficult conversations.
“An awkward silence can actually be a perfect moment to reach out to a friend and ask if they’re OK, if they seem down,” says Glick.
Although suicide is never mentioned in the video, Glick’s message acts as a reminder of the high suicide rate among young people. “Starting the conversation now could stop something much worse from happening later on,” he states. “It doesn’t matter how you say it, just show you’re there for them.”
The Seize The Awkward campaign also features other videos with actors and popular YouTubers. Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey as well as YouTubers Tyler Oakley and Hannah Hart are just a few of the friendly faces that encourage viewers to embrace awkwardness.
Many of the celebs involved in the campaign also shared their own stories of seizing awkward moments. In Posey’s video, the actor reveals that he struggled with depression following his mother’s death. After friends began reaching out, Tyler says he was finally able to accept help and now looks for signs in his friends to indicate when they too need support.
Anyone looking for more information on what signs to look for, how to start the conversation and what to do after checking in on a friend — including revisiting the conversation later or finding professional help — can visit the campaign’s easy-to-follow site at seizetheawkward.org.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are many ways to get help. Click here to get started.
It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 31, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk or sharing the Bell Let’s Talk image on Facebook. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.