Lady Gaga & WHO Director Pen Essay For World Mental Health Day

By Victoria Kim 10/10/18

The duo call for additional treatment funding and the need for governments to better prioritize mental wellness in the essay.

Lady Gaga

Mental health issues are universal—and costly without proper treatment—so why is mental illness still a taboo subject?

That question is raised by Lady Gaga and Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the World Health Organization, in a new essay published in the Guardian on the eve of World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10): "800,000 people kill themselves every year. What can we do?"

This annual statistic translates to “more than the population of Washington, D.C., Oslo or Cape Town,” they write. “Sometimes they are famous names such as Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade that make headlines, but they are all sons or daughters, friends or colleagues, valued members of families and communities.”

Globally, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds, yet mental health receives less than 1% of global aid, they write.

This lack of funding translates to a higher cost overall; mental health issues cost $2.5 trillion a year globally, which will keep rising if they continue to be excluded from the conversation.

“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 write.

Gaga (born Stefani Germanotta) and Adhanom urge governments to invest in mental health services, saying it will not only help individuals but benefit state coffers as well.

“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,” they write.

Individuals have a part to play too, by supporting one another and urging lawmakers to make mental health a priority. “We can all help to build communities that understand, respect and prioritize mental wellness,” they write.

The essay cites local efforts that are moving the momentum in a positive direction, such as the Thrive NYC initiative in New York City.

Germanotta—who previously revealed that she lives with PTSD—spearheads the Born This Way Foundation, established in 2012, with her mother Cynthia Germanotta. The foundation focuses on young people with the goal of creating a “kinder and braver world.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr