The Ad Council draws attention to youth mental health

The Ad Council draws attention to youth mental health

The campaign encourages young adults to spot the signs that someone may be struggling during Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Ad Council has joined forces with The Jed Foundation (JED) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to help young people talk about mental health. 

Since its launch in 2018, the “Seize the Awkward” campaign has provided 16 to 24-year olds with tools and resources to look after their own mental health and that of their friends. 

For Mental Health Awareness month, the organizations, in partnership with Droga5 have created social media and digital content to help young people initiate awkward conversations with one another about mental health.

The pro-bono campaign features TikTok and Instagram influencers such as Bryce, Xavier, Dani Dononva and musician Alaina Castillo, encouraging young people to reach out to one another. The campaign also includes GIFs and stickers, created by Giphy and Holler young adults can send to one another when they can’t find the right words.   

The goal is to empower youth to support themselves and each other during a time when young people are experiencing distress, Heidi Arthur, The Ad Council’s chief campaign officer, said. 

“Checking in on a friend's mental health is critical,” she said. “So many people are struggling due to all of the stressors [caused by] COVID. This campaign is a reminder that [anyone] can play a meaningful role, and we all need to reach out and support our friends.” 

In addition to resources and language to spark a conversation, the campaign educates young people on the signs of depression or anxiety to learn when the right time is to reach out to a friend. 

Seize the Awkward will release a four-part video series on Instagram, featuring Dr. Doreen Marshall of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Dr. Wenimo Okoya of The Jed Foundation, sharing tips for how young people can spot the signs of depression or suicide.

Platforms such as TikTok, Loop, Instagram and Snap have donated media support to amplify the message. 

The campaign is just one part of ongoing suicide prevention campaigns the Ad Council expects to launch, Arthur said.

“The more people hear stories from people that they admire that it's okay to talk about this, the more conversations will take place,” Arthur said. “It's so important to break down the stigma and open up people's minds.”

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