Lady Gaga and the World Health Organization’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus co-penned a powerful, emotional op-ed for The Guardian on suicide, mental health stigma and the lack of resources needed to help eradicate the “mental health emergency.”
Gaga and Ghebreyesus heavily cite statistics throughout their piece, placing the issue in a global context. “By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world,” the op-ed begins, before noting that 800,000 people kill themselves annually.
“Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address,” they state, noting the headline-making deaths of beloved stars like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this year alone. “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.”
As detailed in the op-ed, mental health is a universal issue (“one in four of us will have to deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives”) with a puzzling, dangerous stigma that leads many to struggle talking about it openly or have difficulty securing adequate or affordable care or resources. Globally, mental heal receives less than 1 percent of aid.
Both Gaga and Ghebreyesus hope to rally the world in prioritizing mental health issues as well as de-stigmatization. “The two of us have taken different paths in life,” they continue, “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.”
Gaga has opened up about her mental health issues throughout her career. In 2011, Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta established the Born This Way Foundation at Harvard University, which aims to help build youth communities and safe spaces in the face of bullying and abandonment.