The national campaign, Seize the Awkward, today released new public service advertisements (PSAs) called We Can Talk About It to inspire young adults (16-24) to talk to friends about mental health. The award-winning communications program, a collaborative effort of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Jed Foundation (JED) in partnership with the Ad Council, promotes mental wellbeing to reduce risk and suicide rates in young adults.
According to new data from the CDC, the suicide rate among young people ages 15 to 24 rose 8% in 2021 — an increase of 345 deaths and the highest increase of any age group. In addition to these widespread struggles, blacks and Hispanic/Latino people in the United States are less likely to receive mental health care, and their experiences of racism and discrimination may exacerbate mental health struggles.
“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 helps friends support each other, is more important than ever,” said Bob Gebbia, CEO of AFSP. “And we’re pleased that the latest campaign ads are placing a focus on reaching Black and Hispanic/Latino youth who are struggling. At AFSP, we are committed to doing everything in our power to meet the mental health and suicide prevention needs of underrepresented populations.”
“We are excited to continue our collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Ad Council on the latest Seize the Awkward effort, as young people need support to protect their mental health more than ever,” said John MacPhee, CEO of JED Hispanic/Latino youth face additional challenges in accessing the care they deserve. As leaders in mental health for our nation’s youth, we have a responsibility to provide resources that address the unique challenges faced by all young people, while advocating for greater mental health equity.”
The Seize the Awkward campaign created We Can Talk About It because it recognized the need for culturally relevant content and resources for Black and Hispanic Latino young adults. Developed on a volunteer basis by award-winning creative agency and long-time partner Droga5, the new PSAs reflect the lived experiences of a multitude of young people. Inspired by the recognition that harmful messages about mental health surround young people, We Can Talk About It encourages them to break the stigma and reach out to friends who may be struggling.
The campaign aims to equip all young adults with accessible and relatable information to talk to friends about mental health and directs audiences to the site for more resources.
“‘We Can Talk About It’ isn’t just the title of these new PSAs — it’s a validation that by starting honest conversations about mental health issues, we can break down barriers and help more people feel heard and supported,” said Ad Council Chief Campaign Development Officer Heidi Arthur. “Together with our valued partners, we are proud to help change the mental health narrative and provide resources for young adults to be there for one another.”
“For the past five years, Droga5 has led the creative development of the Seize the Awkward campaign. This time we’ve focused on Black and Hispanic/Latino youth, who often face even more pressure when it comes to mental health,” said Kevin Brady, Executive Creative Director, Droga5. “Our film took a candid look at how the pressures of racism, masculinity and toxic positivity can impact mental health, and let all youngsters know that the first step is to reach out to a friend to talk about it.” to speak how they feel.”
The commercials will appear across all media platforms nationwide, including broadcast, digital, social, out-of-home and print. The films were directed by Haya Waseem and cinematographer Chris Lew.
The We Can Talk About It commercials are the latest of many ongoing activations for the Seize the Awkward campaign. Throughout 2022, creative and influencer content has been released across all major social and digital platforms in partnership with Meta, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap and TikTok. In addition, the campaign works with Adobe to raise awareness of the mental health issues young adults face and compiles content and resources to make it easier for young adults to reach out to those close to them who may be facing mental health issues are to connect and support .
Recent highlights include:
Since its inception in January 2018, Seize the Awkward has been a trusted resource for millions of young adults across the country and has generated over 2.8 million visits to the campaign website. For tools and resources to start a mental health conversation with a friend, visit here and @SeizeTheAwkward on Instagram.