Seize the Awkward is a national campaign aimed at starting conversations about mental health and suicide. The campaign encourages people to “Seize the Awkward” by using awkward silences to start a conversation. The website has videos and tips including signs to look out for, conversation starters, what to say to a friend, stories from others on how talking can make a difference, and other tips.
Some information from their website can be found below. Visit www.seizetheawkward.org to learn more.
Is your friend going through a tough time?
There’s a number of signs to watch out for. But you know your friends best, so trust your gut. And if something seems wrong, ask.
Don’t know what to say?
Try one of these opening lines to get the conversation rolling:
“Maybe it’s me, but I was wondering if you were all right.”
“I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately. What’s going on?”
“Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. How are you?”
“Seems like you haven’t been yourself lately. What’s up?”
“Are you OK? You don’t seem like yourself lately.”
“I know you’re going through some stuff; I’m here for you.”
“No matter what you’re going through, I’ve got your back.”
“This is awkward, but I’d like to know if you’re really all right.”
“I haven’t heard you laugh in a while. Is everything OK?”
“I’m worried about you and would like to know what’s up so I can help.”
You don’t have to be an expert. Just be a friend.
These tips should make starting a conversation about mental health a lot less awkward:
- Keep it casual. Relax: Think of it as a chill chat, not a therapy session.
- Listen up. Let them take the lead.
- Avoid offering advice or trying to fix their problems.
- Let them know it’s ok to feel the way they do.
- Make yourself available – be the friend they can rely on.
- Ask open ended questions. Help them talk, not just say “yes” or “no.”
- Let them open up at their own speed.
- Don’t demand answers or force them to say anything they’re not ready to.
- Encourage them to talk to an expert. Offer to look for help together.
- Tell them you won’t ever judge them.
- Let them know that this won’t change how you feel about them.
- Ask them if they’ve seen a doctor.
What to do next.
You seized the awkward. What now? Keep checking in and follow these tips if you want to do more:
- Don’t give up. Maybe the first try didn’t go so well or maybe they weren’t ready to talk. Show your friend that you’re there for them. Stay available and keep checking in.
- Keep invitations going. Even if they don’t accept, it’s important to keep offering because it still helps. Rejection probably isn’t personal. Let your friend know you’re there for them.
- Handle their trust with care. You may be the only person they talk with about this. Show you care and avoid gossiping about them or turning people against them.
- Get some outside help.You don’t have to do this on your own. If you need someone to talk to, that’s fine. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from Third Level, a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or someone you can trust.
Third Level is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. If your friend is scared to call, offer to call for them. We’re here to help you. Call Third Level or visit us online to learn more.
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This article and tips courtesy of www.seizetheawkward.org, a project of the Ad Council, the JED Foundation, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.