Williams and a team of fellow USC communications students produced and filmed a national PSA focused on spreading mental health awareness.
“I was trying to figure out a better way to reach out and help any way and attack something that isn’t being attacked as aggressively as it should,” Williams told ESPN.
The PSA is called Seize the Awkward, and Williams’ participation is indicative of how he plans to address mental health issues throughout his career. The commercial is expected to run nationally.
It represents an evolution in Williams’ advocacy as his platform grows. Last year, Williams said he painted his fingernails with the suicide prevention number as a way to spread awareness. This is the next step, which includes him starring in a 2 minute, 40 second commercial while reflecting on his own feelings on mental health.
“I want to be a voice, be a brother for whoever is dealing with [mental health] challenges,” Williams said. “I’m not different. We all go through some struggles. Depending on who you are you, you take things different. I’m trying to be there for whoever I can.”
Williams said he hopes the message spreads to a wide audience. He acknowledged that mental health issues cut across all parts of society.
“We do get the 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 those are the baddest dudes on the football field. We’re all human.”
The entire project is a collaboration of 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, which is Williams’ charitable organization.
Williams said he recently transferred into USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and he said it was “awesome” to help students and colleagues there produce something “near and dear to my heart.”
“This was a connect-the-dots project for us — the Ad Council is one of our most significant industry partners, Caleb is a superstar student athlete, and mental health is a key priority for our school community,” said Willow Bay, dean of the Annenberg School. “Having USC Annenberg students collaborate with Caleb to increase awareness around mental health is the perfect kickoff.”
Williams is the starting quarterback at USC after transferring this offseason from Oklahoma. He opened the season with 249 yards passing and two touchdowns in a blowout of Rice.