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USC quarterback Caleb Williams supports young adults' mental health



The athlete teams up with national "Seize the Awkward" Campaign

Seize the Awkward Campaign

On September 7, 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.

READ MORE: Teen anxiety on the rise

"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. 

READ MORE: Mental health tips for COVID-era teens

"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."

For resources and conversation starters to talk with friends about mental health, young adults can visit SeizeTheAwkward.org and follow @SeizeTheAwkward on Instagram.

About The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have had a loss. AFSP creates a culture that's smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with an Advocacy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About The Jed Foundation: JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. We're partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We're equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We're encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health. Connect with JED: Email | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

About the Ad Council: The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation's most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels. The Ad Council's innovative social impact campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council's communities on Facebook and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.

About Caleb Cares Foundation: USC quarterback Caleb Williams has always believed deeply in helping the underdog. Through his foundation, he will dedicate energy and resources to focus on eliminating bullying, mental health awareness and youth development. Through different initiatives, events and programs Caleb hopes to help the kids who are suffering because they don't fit in. Fitting in means you're not standing out. Greatness is formed in our differences. What makes you different today will propel you tomorrow. To learn more, visit CalebCares.org and follow the foundation on Instagram.




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