Mental Health Awareness Month is ending next week, but it's a topic that's important year-round. And that's something that singers Billie Eilish and Ava Max are emphasizing in a set of new videos, which encourage fans to talk openly about mental health struggles. Billie Eilish's video about mental health highlights the importance of checking in on your loved ones, in addition to taking care of yourself.
These videos were created for the Ad Council's Seize the Awkward campaign with The Jed Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The campaign encourages people to talk to their friends about mental health issues, even if opening up may feel awkward at first. "It doesn't make you weak to ask for help. It doesn't," Eilish said in her video. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, and everyone has to help someone if they need it."
Eilish also shared some advice about how people can talk about mental health with their friends and eliminate some of that potential unease. "Starting that conversation, you don't have to make it super serious right away," the singer said. "You say, 'How are you feeling? Like, are you OK?'"
And if someone doesn't want to talk right away, you can still comfort them just by being there, or offering a hug, Eilish noted. Even if a friend isn't ready to explain what they're going through, just knowing someone is there for them can make a big difference. In Eilish's case, that support has come from supportive text messages — a little really does go a long way.
If you're unsure whether a friend might be struggling with a mental health condition, Seize the Awkward also has a list of symptoms that could be signs someone is struggling. Some of the potential warning signs listed include "not acting like they normally do, a loss of interest in the things they used to enjoy, talking about feelings of hopelessness, being more reckless, or isolating from family and friends."
The site also includes more tips on how to talk to friends about mental health — you're not in this alone. And if they don't want to talk, telling them you'll be there if they change their mind is a good place to start.
In Ava Max's Seize the Awkward video, the singer talked about her experience attending public high school after being home-schooled. She ended up eating lunch in the bathroom, Mean Girls style, which eventually inspired her to reach out to other people who might be in similar boats.
"Seek help when you're not feeling mentally there," Max said in her video. "Because we've all been there, and it's normal."
Max and Eilish made some great points in their videos — no one's experience is perfect, and you never know what's going on in someone else's life. You might not be able to solve someone else's problems, but you can be there for them and give them support. And it might make a way bigger difference than you think.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting SEIZE to 741741. 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.