May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is important to recognize every year to help erase the stigma associated with mental illness. But during a global pandemic, it's even more imperative. Young people in particular are going through unprecedented stressors: missing prom and graduation; a fall college semester that's up in the air; entering an unsure job market; and plans of moving out being postponed. Physically distancing from friends and other loved ones indefinitely has just compounded the uncertainty, so even if people are in a fragile mental state, they may be hesitant to reach out for help.
That's where the Seize the Awkward campaign's "Whatever Gets You Talking" music video comes in. Featuring Meghan Trainor, Molly Burke, Addison Rae, and more music and digital stars, the music video highlights the various ways people can open up the conversation about mental health: calling, texting, or doing something as simple as sharing a GIF or an emoji. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds, according to the World Health Organization, and this campaign encourages people to talk about their own mental health if they're struggling, or to reach out to others who may be hurting.
"For many young people struggling with mental health issues, the fears and challenges resulting from COVID-19 have amplified what they're going through," said Heidi Arthur, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council, in a press release. The Ad Council partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Jed Foundation (JED) on the campaign. The video was created pro bono by creative agency Droga5.
In addition to the video, Seize the Awkward also has resources at seizetheawkward.org/coronavirus, which includes creative ways young people can reach out and stay connected to their friends, as well as tips for managing their own emotional wellbeing during this time. Other artists such as Noah Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Christina Perri, and Hayley Kiyoko have previously shared their own mental health stories for Seize the Awkward. If you're struggling, or just feeling lonely, know there's always someone to reach out to.
In an emergency: If you or your friend needs urgent help, call 911 right away. Or even take your friend to the emergency room for assistance. If you feel it's safe, stay with your friend or find someone to stay with them until help arrives.
In a crisis: You are not alone, and help is always available. Get immediate support 24/7. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting SEIZE to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It's free, and everything you tell them is confidential, unless it's essential to contact emergency services to keep you or your friend safe.