Shawn Mendes Urges Fans to Look Beyond 'the Dark Part' of His Controversial New Video for 'Treat You Better'

The 17-year-old pop star tells PEOPLE what inspired his music video about domestic abuse

Photo: John Lamparski/WireImage

The long-awaited music video for Shawn Mendes‘ hit single “Treat You Better” has only been out for a few days, but the song has already racked up nearly six million views on YouTube. The controversial clip examines relationships that have been tainted by abuse.

For Mendes, the reaction to the video has been “phenomenal.”

“I couldn’t believe it actually,” he tells PEOPLE. “I mean it’s scary creating a music video because you want to make sure it tells the story well. I love how the fans are reacting to it – especially the domestic violence hotline [number] at the end of it. I think our goal of spreading the message worked really well.”

Though the powerful visuals shed light on a serious topic, Mendes, 17, claims he didn’t want domestic violence to be the only focus. Instead, he says it’s about making sure couples are “treating each other right.”

“Personally, I’ve seen that happen wrong in a lot of different ways, emotionally and physically. I just wanted to spread the message that it shouldn’t be that way.”

Mendes’ passion for positivity and kindness brought him to partner with Paper Mate InkJoy for their #SpreadJoy initiative. The campaign urges fans to pen handwritten notes of encouragement to one another and share on social media. One lucky fan who posts the hashtag will win the chance to spend a day with the singer on the road.

Mendes kicks off his World Tour on July 15. His album Illuminate can be pre-ordered on now.

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