Lady Gaga is Using her Voice for More than Music
In an effort to reduce the stigma that is commonly associated with mental illness, Lady Gaga and her mom, Cynthia Germanotta, decided to provide as many people as possible with the necessary skills and information about mental health and how to provide help. Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation partnered with the National Council of Behavioral Health to bring Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to all American cities on her Joanne tour at no cost to the participants. The foundation is committed to channeling kindness and is actively working towards its goal of training 150,000 in mental health by the end of the year 2017.
Lady Gaga’s endorsement of the event transpired from her own background with mental health, but more specifically, her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted at 19 years old. Although her emotional struggles have been an intimate part of her life, the artist has chosen to openly discuss her experience that also includes depression and anxiety as a result of bullying. She hopes to raise awareness through public education so that youth and adults can receive adequate care and be connected to available resources.
Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training that serves as a guide to identify the risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use challenges. The course was initially launched in 2008 and has since then educated over 1 million individuals, 1,180 of which are from San Mateo County, to confidently offer support and resources to someone undergoing mental health or substance use crisis. The training includes a detailed action plan that first aiders can use to appropriately identify, assess, and respond to an individual experiencing a mental health challenge.
Learning to become comfortable with discussing mental illness can increase the likelihood of early intervention that can potentially save a life. Sharing personal stories stresses the importance of embracing vulnerability as an initial mechanism for coalition and change. It is humbling that Lady Gaga is using her publicity platform to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health and to advocate for mental health and wellness. This reinforces the Office of Diversity and Equity’s commitment to promote mental health and wellness and combat social injustice by coordinating resources and developing programs that are accessible to all.
Written by Karla Mendoza, ODE Summer Intern