Lady Gaga, who has spoken openly about her experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), knows how beneficial it is to be honest about what you’re feeling, even in the face of stigma. Now, in an op-ed for The Guardian cowritten with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ph.D., director-general of the World Health Organization, she took it a step further.
In the article, the two passionately argued for real, concrete action to help those dealing with all kinds of mental health issues—especially when it comes to preventing suicide.
“Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address,” they wrote.
“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,” they added.
Gaga and Dr. Ghebreyesus also questioned how mental health issues are so prevalent, yet so unaddressed. “One in four of us will have to deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives, and if we’re not directly affected, someone we care for is likely to be,” they wrote. “Yet despite the universality of the issue, we struggle to talk about it openly or to offer adequate care or resources. Within families and communities, we often remain silenced by a shame that tells us that those with mental illness are somehow less worthy or at fault for their own suffering.”
The pair also shined a light on the lack of resources available for those dealing with mental health issues.
“In too many places support services are non-existent and those with treatable conditions are criminalized—literally chained up in inhumane conditions, cut off from the rest of society without hope,” they said. “Mental health currently receives less than 1 percent of global aid. Domestic financing on prevention, promotion, and treatment is similarly low. At present, every nation in the world is a ‘developing’ country when it comes to mental health.”
As SELF wrote previously, there are significant barriers to mental health treatment for many people even in the U.S., including the stigma of seeking professional help, cost and the lack of coverage by insurance, as well as the difficulty in finding a therapist who relates to your specific life experiences.
“The two of us have taken different paths in life,” Gaga and Dr. Ghebreyesus wrote. “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.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.