Johannesburg - She is known for her outlandish stage costumes and hit songs like “Born This Way”, “Poker Face” and “Shallow”, but Lady Gaga has a softer side and is deeply committed to mental health.
Australian-based fashion and lifestyle brand Cotton On partnered their philanthropic arm, the Cotton On Foundation, with US-based non-profit, the Born This Way Foundation, founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Bissett Germanotta, in 2012. Together, they aim to raise $5 million (about R100,) for global mental health, with R 2.5m being donated to provide mental health support for youth in South Africa.
The artist said their research showed that kindness is one way we can support each other’s mental health.
“We’re honoured to partner with the Cotton On Foundation for our first global campaign amplifying our mission to build a kinder, braver world together. We are constantly working to uplift the stories of young people worldwide, and through this partnership, we invite everyone to practise kindness and learn how to better support one another,” Gaga said.
The two organisations came together to create a range of limited-edition products available from September 1 – October 10, with Cotton On donating 100% of the net proceeds to the Born This Way Foundation, making Cotton On one of the biggest corporate contributors to global youth mental health resources and support in 2023.
Customers can purchase items, including caps, T-shirts, tote bags, stationery, and a denim jacket online and in select stores globally. The ‘Kinder, Braver, Together’ product design was inspired by Born This Way Foundation’s mission of supporting youth mental health and working with young people to build a kinder, braver world, an ethos shared by the Cotton On Foundation on their journey to create a world where everyone can thrive.
President and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation, Cynthia Bissett Germanotta, said she hoped this partnership would accelerate the delivery of tangible resources, skills, and grass-roots support necessary to build kinder, braver communities that value and improve mental health.
“We are grateful for the support of the Cotton On Foundation and the opportunity to expand our collective impact worldwide. Every day, we witness young people around the world leading and transforming the discussion around mental health and calling for increased resources to support themselves, their peers, and their communities. Cotton On’s purpose is to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and it is partnerships like this that will deliver significant impact on a global scale,” she said.
CEO of Cotton On, Peter Johnson, said staff and customers told them that mental health was increasingly important to them.
“The foundation set out with the commitment to help 10 million people gain access to mental health services. Born This Way Foundation is a critical partner in making this goal a reality,” said Johnson
Established in 2007, Cotton On Foundation has raised more than $170 million AUD (about R3 244 219 820) to support youth globally and is proud to be expanding their impact in the mental health space through this collaboration. Beyond the product line, the collaboration will also support Born This Way Foundation initiatives, including the ‘Be There Certificate,’ a free online course created in partnership with Jack.org, that provides participants with the knowledge to support peers facing mental health challenges.
To ensure widespread impact, this partnership also calls on young people globally to nominate local mental health organisations in Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and the US. Selected nominees will receive funding up to R2 500 000 per country as part of Born This Way Foundation's ‘Kindness in Community Fund’, expanding the availability of resources to support mental health in communities where Cotton On operates.
General manager of Cotton On Foundation, Tim Diamond, said they are passionate about building supportive communities where collectively they can create positive change.
“Our unique fund-raising model brings our team and customers together to give back. It’s pretty incredible. When we established our foundation 15 years ago, we never thought we would be where we are today. We are proud and humbled to be partnering with the Born This Way Foundation to increase access for young people to mental health resources and positively impact the communities where we live and work,” he said.
Cotton On Foundation and Born This Way Foundation aim to impact young people globally and ignite a transformative movement that prioritises mental health and gives younger generations the tools to take action. With one in seven young people aged 10-19 worldwide experiencing mental health challenges, particularly depression and anxiety, and many unable to access support services, this partnership seeks to increase community-based mental health resources for young people and foster kinder communities, leading up to World Mental Health Day on October 10.