Lady Gaga is known for using her powerful voice for more than just music. Over the course of her career, the pop star has been very vocal about her experience with mental health, and launched the Born This Way Foundation in 2011 to help youth facing similar issues. And on Today's web series "Through Mom's Eyes," the "Shallow" singer's mom, Cynthia Germanotta, opened up about what it was like to witness Gaga navigate her depression, the bullying she faced in school, and what the foundation is doing to make sure young people are "better equipped to deal with her struggles than she was."
Germanotta began by explaining that things got particularly difficult for Gaga in middle school, when classmates started to single her out and bully her. "Because she was unique, [she] started experiencing a lot of struggles," she said. "Feeling isolated from events, humiliated, taunted, and that's when she developed depression." But at the time, the mother of two wasn't fully aware of all the struggles her older daughter was facing. "I knew some of it," she explained. "But there's some of it that she didn't share because she was either embarrassed or afraid to tell me."
In hindsight, Germanotta also recognizes that she didn't have the level of awareness or resources necessary to fully help her daughter at that time. "We tried our best as parents to help her, but didn't know everything," she said. "So I felt where I made mistakes was I didn't really know the warning signs to look for." Fortunately, the Born This Way Foundation offers a lot of helpful tips to young people and their families in similar situations, as well as easy access to a variety of different helplines.
"It's something that's very, very personal to us, and it goes back to the struggles that Stefani had growing up," Germanotta said of the foundation. "As her career took off, we realized how many other young people had similar experiences, and her message was really resonating with them." Now that it's been in existence for nearly a decade, talking to youth has become Germanotta's favorite part. "Hearing from young people, that's how we inform all of our programs, and they know best."
As for Gaga, the Born This Way Foundation has evolved into way more than just a passion project; it's her life's work. "Of course, she'll never leave her music or her acting; she wants to be remembered for that," Germanotta said. "But she really wants to be remembered for helping youth all over the world."
If you or someone you know is struggling with their emotional health, head to halfofus.com for ways to get help.