Mama monster Lady Gaga and her own mama, Cynthia Germanotta, have long been advocates of mental wellness and reducing stigmas and stereotyping around mental illness. The singer has been open about her own struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, and one of the central components of her Born This Way Foundation is promoting mental wellness and helping create more awareness, understanding, and compassion for those with mental illnesses. To help further this goal, Germanotta and the Born This Way Foundation (that she and Lady Gaga co-founded) are sponsoring a training program called Mental Health First Aid. These trainings help everyday people identify signs of mental illness and addiction and help them understand how to provide appropriate support and resources. Betsy Schwartz, vice president of public education and special initiatives at the National Council for Behavioral Health, says Mental Health First Aid is "really giving people concrete actions to be able to turn kindness into helping people who need it." A truly important resource that is needed now more than ever.
Mashable spoke with Germanotta about Mental Health First Aid and found out more about why this initiative is so important to both her and her daughter. She said, "To us, [the training] is so vitally important because there's still a very large stigma around mental health, and around talking about it and providing help for people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. It's really been invaluable because there's just a comfort level knowing that if you see someone in crisis, you can have a conversation with them and hopefully determine how severe it is." Germanotta also explained that the cause is so near and dear to her daughter because the bullying and ostracization she faced as a child made her want to help "other young people be much better equipped to deal with that than she thought we were."
As Gaga tours around the country promoting her latest album, Joanne, the Born This Way Foundation is coming along on its own Channel Kindness Tour. At each concert venue and city the Lady Gaga stops at, there will be pop up activations, youth led-events, and community gatherings aimed at creating kindness, being brave, and giving back. Mental Health First Aid will be a part of this tour, providing training in each city with the goal of creating 150,000 "first aiders" by the end of the year.