Challenging Mental Health StigmasDepression and other issues are more common than many think

Born This Way Foundation panel discussion
Panel discussion at MDC’s Wolfson Campus featuring (left to right) Shadille Estepan, Program Associate for The Born This Way Foundation, Cynthia Germanotta, President/Co-Founder of The Born This Way Foundation and Lady Gaga’s mother, Josh Hollin, Born This Way Foundation Kindness Reporter, Kenesha Chalemon, Born This Way Foundation Kindness Reporter

Cynthia Germanotta may be the mother of one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, but during Mental Health Awareness Month, Lady Gaga’s mom joined Miami Dade College in shining the spotlight on one of the biggest challenges facing youth in America today.

Germanotta, president and co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation, a charity that she established with her daughter, Lady Gaga, in 2012, joined a panel discussion with young adults from the Miami area to discuss how to effectively address mental health within families and across communities. MDC graduate and former student government leader Shadille Estepan moderated the conversation, which was broadcasted to thousands of online viewers via Facebook Live.

“Depression is common.”

“Mental health is an extremely important issue, not only here in Miami and the United States but in the world today, reaching epidemic proportions,” said Germanotta. “I’m very happy to have this opportunity to be here and shine a light on it.”

The discussion gave MDC students and members of the local community an opportunity to learn the signs of common anxiety disorders, which affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States. “Depression is common,” said Germanotta. “About 1 in 5 people either have it or will have it at some point in their lives. That tells us that the likelihood of us knowing someone or having to take care of someone who has it is high.”

The conversation also touched upon how we can all support loved ones who may be struggling with mental health concerns and provided a supportive environment for audience members to ask questions and share personal experiences surrounding mental health.

Jaime Anzalotta, interim dean of students at Wolfson Campus, closed the event by sharing that it is through these types of insightful conversations that Miami Dade College is committed to breaking stigmas, inspiring change and supporting the well-being of its students and local community.

“Mental illness can affect anyone and by focusing only on the stereotypes that surround it, we may be preventing individuals from getting help,” said Anzalotta. “As a college and as a community, it is our responsibility to humanize –  not dehumanize – mental health, support each other and build awareness. This is the only way we will be able to achieve our personal and professional goals.”

Talk to Someone

Students interested in learning more about mental health can visit the Wolfson Campus Single Stop to obtain a comprehensive referral list of community health resources in the area. For more information, call 305-237-3338 or visit Room 3115-8.