Lady Gaga is bringing more than just entertainment to Miami this week.
Her Born This Way Foundation hosted a discussion Wednesday morning with local education officials and high school students about the stigma surrounding mental illness. Co-hosted by the Miami Heat, the event was held at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami, where the singer will perform on Thursday.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho and a psychologist who manages the district’s responses to crises participated in the talk. They said administrators, teachers and students receive training on how to recognize warning signs that children might be grappling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.
“Just like I can break an arm, just like my belly can hurt, a lot of young people and adults alike experience mental illness,” Carvalho told the students gathered for the event. “It is not to be frowned upon. There are no castaways in our society. There are no discardable human beings. A reasonable, 21st century society recognizes it and addresses it with compassion and understanding.”
Carvalho said students who are homeless, disabled, LGBT, undocumented immigrants or victims of bullying are especially at risk.
He said students should be aware of their peers’ life experiences and struggles.
“Without awareness, there is no understanding. And without understanding, there is no compassion. And when we lose human compassion, we invite abuse,” he said.
Representatives from Lady Gaga’s foundation also presented the findings of a new survey examining young Floridians’ mental wellness.
More than half of Florida high school students say the word “stressed” describes them well, the study showed. Forty-two percent of students said their classes do not cover mental health issues. The survey was based on online interviews conducted in June and July with more than 3,000 people ages 15 to 24 living in Florida and another 1,000 parents of such young people.
Here’s the full survey: