Story at a glance
- Through the Born This Way Foundation, Lady Gaga and her mother are advocating for mental health awareness and the practice of kindness.
- A survey commissioned by the foundation measured the effect of kindness on young Americans in the last year.
- White youth are more likely than Black, Indigenous and other youths of color to experience certain acts of kindness.
Everyone could use a kind word now and then, but a new survey reveals that nonwhite and LGBTQ+ youths are less likely to hear them than their cisgender white peers — even from themselves.
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More than two-thirds of young people surveyed by the Harris Poll said that experiencing more kindness would improve their mental health, but those who most need it, including those who are less financially secure, older or LGBTQ+, are less likely to say they regularly see kindness in the world. White youth were also more likely to have someone who believes in them and encourages them to do their best, goes out of their way to show they care or listens when they have a problem, according to the survey of more than 2,000 young people between 13 and 24.
What does kindness look like? For more than two-thirds of youth surveyed, the simple act of wearing a face mask is an act of kindness, while transgender and nonbinary youth said using pronouns in introductions was an act of kindness. LGBTQ+ youth were less likely to say their parents were a source of inspiration, saying instead that kindness is about how you treat yourself, as well — but are also less likely to say they are often kind to themselves, as are women.
Still, they remain optimistic, with more than three-fourths of youth saying that the coming years will be better than the past year and a majority of youth saying they are more willing to talk about and actively seek help with their mental health.
"The impact of kindness cannot be understated. Through this research young people told us that receiving more kindness from others, showing better kindness to themselves, and witnessing more kindness in the world would all help to improve their mental health. I am inspired by the resilience and optimism that young people are showing, despite the challenges they face. Our seemingly small acts of kindness have the power to impact every measure of our lives and help our communities thrive," said Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation along with her daughter, Stefani Germanotta — also known as Lady Gaga.
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