The Ad Council announced today that its mental health campaign Seize The Awkward is back with another YouTube partnership and an extensive social media campaign that will go live on various platforms throughout September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Lifestyle creator Jessie Paege is the newest YouTuber to share her story for Seize The Awkward, joining previous YouTube partners including Mark ‘Markiplier’ Fischbach, Hannah Hart, and Liza Koshy. Seize The Awkward encourages teens and young adults to check in with their friends about mental health and have tough conversations about mental illness, even when it’s awkward. The campaign is a joint venture between the Ad Council, the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, and the Jed Foundation.

Paege’s personal story video is currently live on YouTube. Other parts of Seize The Awkward’s September campaign will go up across platforms like Twitch, Tumblr, and Reddit as the month goes on.

Paege, who has more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube, sat down with Tubefilter to talk about just how important Seize The Awkward is to her.

Tubefilter: Why did you decide to participate in Seize The Awkward?

Jessie Paege: I decided to participate because I want audiences to know that it’s important to discuss mental health and to know that no one is alone. It’s totally okay to feel nervous or awkward when talking about mental health, but the important thing is to embrace that feeling and know that it won’t last forever once you start the conversation. I’ve personally struggled with anxiety, so I thought this campaign was a great way to spread awareness and get the conversation going.

Tubefilter: Why is it important for you to be so open about having social anxiety?

JP: My channel has definitely become an effective outlet for me because I can openly express my thoughts and struggles and fears and feel more comfortable talking about mental health. I think the more people openly talk about it, the easier it gets. Anxiety is not something that just disappears, but can get easier and more manageable.

Tubefilter: Why do you think it’s important for people to understand that social anxiety, and anxiety disorders as a whole, are real mental illnesses, not “just being nervous”?

JP: It’s extremely important to be aware of the difference between anxiety and just being nervous. Anxiety is not something you can just turn off. When people say “calm down” or “chill out,” it usually means they don’t understand that anxiety has to be managed properly and is not something someone can control all the time. That’s what makes this conversation so important. We need to all keep learning and understanding one another. Campaigns like Seize the Awkward aim to educate and connect all of us as an aware community. This conversation is for everyone, not just people who struggle with mental health. No one is alone and no one should have to navigate this journey solo.

Tubefilter: Is there anything else you want to share with viewers who may also have social anxiety?

JP: I think it’s important to know that everyone’s experience is different. Everyone is affected differently and everyone copes differently. What one person might find helpful, another person might not. So be mindful of others, find what works best for you, and help keep the conversation going.

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