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CPO, SPS go gaga over mental health

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Last edited 1:45 p.m., Feb. 28, 2019

Community Partnership of the Ozarks and Springfield Public Schools were selected to participate in a mental health initiative by pop singer Lady Gaga’s nonprofit Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

The national organizations are launching a teen mental health first aid pilot program at U.S. high schools, and Kickapoo High School will be part of the initiative, according to a news release.

“We are thrilled to introduce teen mental health first aid to our community,” said Chris Davis, CPO’s vice president of prevention and youth support, in the release. “The program will teach students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.”

Through the program, students will have access to training that will help them identify the signs of mental health or substance abuse problems among their peers. The course encourages students to tell teachers who have been training in youth mental health first aid.

Davis said via email the national council and foundation would provide funding to implement the pilot program. The funding pays for three CPO and two SPS staff members to receive training, as well as student manuals.

“Through this pilot, Springfield Public Schools is taking an important step toward ensuring their students are able to recognize when a friend or peer might be struggling and to feel confident that they know what to do to help,” said Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation with her daughter Stefani Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga, in the release. “Knowing how to spot the signs that someone in our lives is experiencing a mental health challenge and understanding how we can support that person is a basic life skill we all need to have – especially teenagers.”

Lady Gaga is a Grammy-winning singer who starred in the Oscar-nominated film, “A Star is Born,” which tackles mental health and substance addition. She and her mother founded the nonprofit in 2012 to empower youth and work to improve mental health resources, according to its website.

The program at Kickapoo is slated to start in March and finished by the end of the semester, Davis said.

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