By Madeline Holcombe, CNN
(CNN) — Megan Thee Stallion wants you to ask your friends how they are doing — for real.
The rapper is part of a new public service announcement with Seize the Awkward, a national campaign encouraging young people to talk to their friends about mental health.
“I’ve always been told I’ve gotta be strong,” Megan Thee Stallion, whose offstage name is Megan Pete, said in a video for the campaign. “But to be everything for everybody, it wears on you.
“Reach out to a friend if you see them going through it. No matter who you are, being vulnerable is what makes us whole,” she continued.
Her involvement in the project is helpful in reducing the stigma around mental health, which can be a big barrier to getting help, said Dr. Broderick Sawyer, a clinical psychologist in Louisville, Kentucky.
This is not Pete’s first public statement on mental health. Her music has touched on the theme and her own website “Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too” gathers mental health resources – both general and those that cater to specific groups.
That specificity is often lacking in mental health care, Sawyer said.
“Many centralizing platforms just have resources that pretend mental health is one-size-fits-all, that everyone is the same,” Sawyer said in an email. “The truth is that people have wildly different experiences depending on their identities, and types of sociopolitical oppression they go through.”
That Megan Thee Stallion is speaking about mental health publicly “is forcing the conversation to go mainstream,” he added.
And her popularity is a huge advantage in ending the stigma, Sawyer said. With Pete’s involvement, the campaign aims to reach young, marginalized populations and make the message more relatable, said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in a statement.
She is “finally making healing look as cool as it should be,” Sawyer said.
Open up to a friend or loved one for help
The campaign is intended to normalize turning to loved ones for mental health, but also to educate young people on signs that a peer might be struggling, according to a statement from the foundation.
Support can make a big difference in emotional well-being as well as suicide prevention in teens and young adults, said John MacPhee, CEO of The Jed Foundation.
The suicide rate for children and young adults ages 10 to 24 has increased for the 15 years, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s important that we regularly check in on our friends and family and make sure to show empathy, encouragement, and love when they’re struggling,” Pete said in a statement. “A strong support system can make a powerful difference in someone’s life.”
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