USC Trojans football player Caleb Williams helps create PSA for mental health awareness
USC quarterback Caleb Williams made a public statement Tuesday that focused on mental health.
Williams and a team of communications students from USC produced and filmed a national PSA focused on spreading mental health awareness.
“I was trying to find a better way to reach out and help in some way and attack something that wasn’t being attacked as aggressively as it should,” Williams told ESPN.
The PSA is called Embrace the awkward, and Williams’ participation is indicative of how he plans to address mental health issues throughout his career. The commercial will run nationwide.
It represents an evolution of Williams’ advocacy as his platform grows. Last year, Williams said he painted his fingernails with the suicide prevention number to raise awareness. This is the next step in which he stars in a 2 minute 40 second commercial while reflecting on his own feelings about mental health.
“I want to be a voice, to be a brother to everyone it relates to [mental health] challenges,” Williams said. “I’m no different. We all go through some struggles. Depending on who you are, you take things differently. I try to be there for everyone I can.”
Williams said he hopes the message will reach a wide audience. He acknowledged that mental health problems affect all sections of society.
“We have this idea that football players should be tough or this and that,” Williams said. “I’m still human. My right guard and left tackle are still human, and they’re the worst guys on the field. We are all human.”
The entire project is a collaboration of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Jed Foundation (which focuses on emotional health and suicide prevention for young adults), the Ad Council, and Caleb Cares, Williams’ nonprofit.
Williams said he recently transferred to USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and he said it’s “great” to help students and colleagues there produce something “that’s very close to my heart.”
“This has been a connect-the-dots project for us – the Ad Council is one of our key industry partners, Caleb is a superstar student athlete and mental health is a top priority for our school community,” said Willow Bay, Dean of the Annenberg School. “Having students at USC Annenberg partnering with Caleb to raise awareness of mental health is a perfect start.”
Williams is the starting quarterback at USC after moving this offseason from Oklahoma. He opened the season with 249 passing yards and two touchdowns in a Rice blowout.