The Seize the Awkward campaign released a new public service advertisement (PSA) featuring star quarterback Caleb Williams encouraging young people to check in with their peers and have open conversations about their mental health.
The campaign— from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and The Jed Foundation (JED) in collaboration with the Ad Council —worked with the Caleb Cares Foundation and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of California (USC) to develop the student-produced video.
In times of crisis, three in four young adults turn to a peer for support. As students across the country return to school and National Suicide Prevention Month begins in September, this new video from Seize the Awkward inspires them to learn the signs and start the conversation with friends about mental health. View the full PSA here.
Starring Caleb Williams, the spot highlights the real experiences of the student-athlete and his fellow students about how talking with friends about their mental health made an impact.
As the first collegiate athlete to participate in the campaign, Williams adds his distinct outlook and experiences to expand the conversation about mental health. The video also incorporates perspectives from several current USC students who drew on their firsthand experiences as they ideated, filmed, directed, and edited the PSA.
“Working with fellow USC students and the Seize the Awkward team on this PSA allowed me to share how important mental health awareness is in my life, especially through my experiences as a student-athlete,” said Williams. “I hope everyone sees the importance of supporting your friends and what a huge difference that can make in someone’s life.”
Williams, who has committed to advocating for mental health and anti-bullying through his foundation, Caleb Cares, also spoke at the live premiere of the PSA yesterday at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The event included a first look at the PSA and a panel moderated by USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay. Panelists included Williams; members of the student production team; JED’s Director of School Engagement, Erica Riba and the Ad Council’s Creators for Good Director, Elena Havas Taylor. Bonus content from the panel will be released on the @SeizeTheAwkward Instagram.
Williams is the latest in a rich history of trusted messengers and celebrities who have lent their voices to share the message of Seize the Awkward since the campaign first launched in January 2018. Billie Eilish, Aminé, Orion Carloto, Lauv, Noah Cyrus and more have all shared their personal stories about how talking with friends about mental health has made an impact.
“All indicators show how needed this campaign and message are during this time. AFSP thanks Caleb Williams and the USC team for creating the video and encouraging young people to continue supporting each other and staying connected. That support for one another will save lives,” shared AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia.
“This PSA comes at a very important time, as we know that young people are facing increasing levels of anxiety and depression as they grapple with uncertainty, isolation, and loss resulting from the pandemic, as well as concern about school shootings, incidents of bias and racism, climate change, and loss of reproductive rights and autonomy, among other stressors,” said JED CEO John MacPhee. “It is important for young people to hear from their peers that it’s OK to open up and talk about their experiences.”