Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young adults and for every youth suicide, it is estimated that 100 – 200 attempts are made.
Young adulthood is a critical time in a person’s life when they may experience greater stress from life changes like leaving high school, moving from home and starting college. It’s also a time when mental health issues frequently emerge. Despite effective treatment options, there are often long delays between the first appearance of symptoms and when people seek counseling or treatment. 46% of young adults age 18-25 with serious mental illness did not receive counseling or treatment.
The good news—76% of young adults will turn to a peer in a time of crisis for support. That means the friends of those struggling can be incredibly influential in helping them get the help they need. Younger generations are ready to crack open the cultural conversation about mental health, but they’re missing the language and resources to do it.
To address this, the Ad Council, the Jed Foundation (JED) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) launched Seize the Awkward, a national public service campaign. Seize the Awkward aims to empower 16 to 24-year-olds to help friends who are struggling with mental health issues and who may be at risk for suicide by equipping them with the language to do so.
In conversations with young adults, we learned…
- Friendships are everything to teens. When they open up and are vulnerable with each other, it creates a powerful new space of trust between them that doesn’t just lead to important mental health conversations, but that also strengthens their friendships.
- This powerful insight led our strategy. It’s about friendships and giving young people a way to change the culture of mental health one friendship at a time.
- The creative idea: Seize the Awkward – aims to transform an awkward moment from something we avoid into the perfect opportunity to reach out and ask a friend how they’re doing.
- The campaign encourages young adults to create a safe space for their friends to open up about mental health and prepares them for how to support a friend in need.
Implementation – tone:
- The campaign approaches a sensitive and serious topic with an upbeat tone to encourage young people to start the conversation about mental health.
- In taking a lighter, more upstream approach, Seize the Awkward hopes to make the content more relatable and approachable to the target audience of 16- to 24-year-olds.
Implementation – talent:
- Given how incredibly influential celebrity talent is to our target audience, we partnered with musician Billie Eilish to create a personal video in which she opens up about her mental health.
- The video focuses on Billie Eilish’s own struggles with mental health, how friends supported her, how to ask for help, and how to offer help to someone who might be struggling.
- With Billie Eilish opening up and sharing her own mental health stories, we hoped to destigmatize the issue and encourage viewers to reach out their friends to start their own conversations.
Video for Billie Eilish, Seize the Awkward
- The Billie Eilish video garnered more than 5.3 million views, 6.6 million impressions, 3.5 million in reach, 355.8k engagements and an estimated value of $2.01 million based on the campaign’s core KPI of video views.
- The activation contributed to a major spike in organic social traffic to the campaign’s website, leading to a 392% increase in organic social sessions and an 85% increase in average session duration.
- The activation also contributed to significant shifts in campaign on site goals and conversion rates with a 63% increase in video completion conversion rates and a 136% increase in third click conversion rates.
- In a continuous tracking study, 35% of respondents are aware of the campaign PSAs. 79% of respondents are comfortable supporting a friend who is experiencing mental health issues. 59% of respondents have talked to a friend about their personal mental health, in the past 6 months.