For World Mental Health Day, musician and activist Lady Gaga helped to pen a powerful essay in The Guardian on the “emergency” of mental health crises and suicide around the world right now.
Lady Gaga, who co-founded the Born This Way youth advocacy group, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general at the World Health Organization, co-authored the piece and shared some shocking statistics to bring attention to the importance of mental health. They said the scope of the issues are on par with the many physical ailments affecting millions worldwide.
“By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world,” the essay in The Guardian began. “Those six are a tiny fraction of the 800,000 people who will kill themselves this year –- more than the population of Washington, D.C., Oslo or Cape Town.”
While some of these who have taken their lives may be celebrities like Anthony Bourdain, Chris Cornell and many others, there are thousands, even millions of others who don’t make media headlines, the article said, and this doesn’t make them any less important.
“One in four of us will have to deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives” Gaga and Ghebreyesus said, adding that suicide is “the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds.”
Despite the millions of people who are affected by mental health issues, many of those suffering don’t speak up because of the stigma that still exists.
“Instead of treating those facing mental health conditions with the compassion we would offer to someone with a physical injury or illness, we ostracize, blame and condemn,” the essay continued, adding that funding to help mental illness around the world is terribly low.
“The time has come for us all, collectively, to tackle the causes and symptoms of mental illness, and provide care for those who suffer from it,” Lady Gaga and Ghebreyesus wrote. “We can all be a part of a new movement –- including people who have faced mental illness themselves –- to call on governments and industry to put mental health at the top of their agendas.”
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After citing some grassroots programs in nations like Zimbabwe and the U.K. that are helping to erase some of the mental health stigma, the duo add that the World Health Organization has been working on a “global action plan” for the past five years.
“Earlier this year, the WHO published the Global Mental Health Atlas, which provides information from 177 countries on progress towards achieving the plan’s targets,” Lady Gaga and Ghebreyesus wrote. “The key takeaway is that although there has been some progress, we need significant investments to expand services.”
Another report will be published in The Lancet that will be the “most comprehensive collection of research ever produced on how to promote and protect mental health and treat mental illness” and their hope is that government action and public support for friends, family and neighbors suffering with mental illness will “change the world.”
Anyone who has had thoughts of suicide or self-harm or know someone who is in crisis, or anyone who just need to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.