About a week ago, as I was mindlessly scrolling through my twitter feed, I came across this tweet that caught my attention. It was the launch of a new national public service campaign developed by Ad Council, The Jed Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Droga5 in efforts to "empower teens and young adults to reach out to friends with mental health issues". They call it "Seize The Awkward".
Attached to the tweet was this short clip:
After watching the video I was immediately hooked to what this campaign stands for. It's true - talking about mental health can sometimes be awkward. Oftentimes it's hard to find the right words to bring up without offending your friend. As someone who struggles deeply with anxiety and depression, I'm a firm believer of starting the conversation and talking more about mental health issues.
I'll admit that there will be periods of time where I isolate myself and shut down. I can usually go days without talking to anyone and I'd stay in bed a lot. Even worse, I'm very hard to approach when I get like this. So after digging into their website, it quickly hit home.
Chief Creative Officer of Droga5, Ted Royer, explains that the aim with Seize The Awkward is to "open the lines of communication among friends at risk in an approachable, thoughtful way. When we see something troublesome, or worse, in our friends and we find the courage to speak to them, we can really help someone in need."
The website was easy to navigate, and without even knowing it, I spent a while on it and learned a lot. I loved that it included signs that you as a friend can watch out for to know if your friend is going through a rough time. This, I found, was extremely important. Signs include: acting weird and getting mad for no reason, getting negative about life, taking dumb risks, sleeping more, sleeping less, and so much more. But ultimately, trust your gut. If you know they're not themselves, just reach out and ask.
Then it goes on and offers some conversation starters. Personally, 99% of the time I won't admit what's wrong upfront. I've always told my friends that I've felt like a burden and that's why I usually refrain from speaking. But I've always appreciated when they noticed a difference in my behavior and reached out. These opening lines I found on the website are extremely helpful. Some include: "is there anything you want to talk about?"; "you know you can tell me anything. I won't judge"; and "whenever you're ready to talk, I'm ready to listen".
There were even tips in regards to what to say during the conversation and what to do afterwards. Most of the time, I usually just want someone to listen, and let me know it's okay to feel the way that I do. It's always important not to force answers and let them go at their own speed. At the end of it, let them know that you'll always be there. For me, I just always wanted the reassurance from my friends that they would never give up on me.
I believe this campaign is great step to understanding mental health issues. For more information, I highly encourage visiting seizetheawkward.org.