On Thursday night, Lady Gaga spoke of a "global mental health crisis" and issued a call for better mental health care in the entertainment industry. Variety reports that, in an acceptance speech for a patron award at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Patron of the Artists Awards, Gaga spoke from her personal experiences in dealing with mental health issues.
“I began to notice that I would stare off into space and black out for seconds or minutes,” she said. "I would see flashes of things I was tormented by, experiences that were filed away in my brain with ‘I’ll deal with you later' for many years because my brain was protecting me, as science teaches us. These were also symptoms of disassociation and PTSD."
Gaga also stated that her mental health was so intertwined with her physical health that the symptoms she was experiencing "later morphed into physical chronic pain, fibromyalgia, panic attacks, acute trauma responses, and debilitating mental spirals that have included suicidal ideation and masochistic behaviour."
Gaga went on to say that, during this time, she didn't have anyone on her team that could support her from a mental health standpoint. "I wish there had been a system in place to protect and guide me, a system in place to empower me to say no to things I felt I had to do, a system in place to empower me to stay away from toxic work environments or working with people who were of seriously questionable character," she said, adding that the SAG-AFTRA Foundation could partner with her own Born This Way Foundation to establish mental health care programs that would serve members of their union.
Such resources are so important, Gaga explained, because they would do so much to remove the stigma that still surrounds mental illness in general and, specifically, the decision to get help. “We are losing a generation of young people who do not believe that their voices are worth hearing, that their pain has no end,” she said, NME reports. "We are facing a crisis of epic proportions and the cause of that crisis is our inability or unwillingness to be open and honest about one thing – mental health, today."
Gaga has been a staunch advocate for people living with mental illnesses as well as those who have survived sexual violence for years. In directing her statement to leaders in the entertainment industry, those who have the power to establish networks that would help actors, artists, writers, and others manage their mental health, she made one thing clear — she's not going to stop pushing for serious, systematic changes that will ultimately alleviate mental illness sufferers of the burden of stigma.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please contact Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566. All calls will be answered in confidence.