How Lady Gaga Wants The World To Change Its Approach To Mental Health

"We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma."

In a new op-ed, Lady Gaga is speaking out about how the world approaches mental health. The singer co-wrote the piece, published in the Guardian, with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, just in time for World Mental Health Day.

"By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world," the essay begins, going on to share that 800,000 people will die by suicide this year. It also mentions that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 29 years old.

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"Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address," the essay continues. "Stigma, fear and lack of understanding compound the suffering of those affected and prevent the bold action that is so desperately needed and so long overdue."

The piece points out that less than 1 percent of global aid goes to mental health, explaining, "At present, every nation in the world is a 'developing' country when it comes to mental health."

"We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma or stymied by misguided ideas that portray these conditions as a matter of weakness or moral failing," the essay argues. "Research shows there is a fourfold return on investment for every dollar spent on treating depression and anxiety, the most common mental health conditions, making spending on the issue a great investment for both political leaders and employers, in addition to generating savings in the health sector."

The piece urges readers to ask their governments to treat mental health as a priority, and gives credit to countries such as Sri Lanka, which has a "dedicated mental healthcare framework," as well as New York City's ThriveNYC program. It also points to the WHO's Global Mental Health Atlas, which explores how 177 countries are taking action on mental health, as well as a new collection of research from experts around the world, published in medical journal The Lancet, to "provide the scientific foundation for scaling up global action on mental health."

"The two of us have taken different paths in life," the essay concludes. "But both of us have seen how political leadership, funding, innovation and individual acts of bravery and compassion can change the world. It is time to do the same for mental health."

It's not the first time Lady Gaga has spoken up about mental health issues. Her organization the Born This Way Foundation aims to raise awareness around mental health and provide resources to young people who are struggling. In 2016, she revealed that she struggles with PTSD, and later filmed a FaceTime call with Prince William in which she said that "the best thing that could come out of my mental illness was to share it with other people."

You can read the full Guardian essay here.

(H/T: NME)

Cover image: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

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