"We are facing a crisis of epic proportions"
The ‘Shallow’ singer addressed the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s 3rd annual Patron of the Artists Awards, at which she was honoured. Her 23-minute acceptance speech for wining the Artists Inspiration Award covered her own mental health issues, her fears for young musicians and artists struggling to voice their struggles, and her plans to build future programmes.
“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. “And that their contributions are not valuable enough to move the needle in society and culture. 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.”
While the singer urged people to focus on kindness, she also noted the reluctance people still have to discuss mental health issues publicly.
“When I give speeches about kindness, people have lively engaged discussions but when I speak about mental health, even or especially when I’m speaking about mine, it is often met with quietness,” she said. “Or maybe a somber line of fans waiting outside to whisper to me in the shadows about their darkest secrets.
“We need to bring mental health into the light. We need to share our stories so that global mental health no longer resides and festers in the darkness. It is dangerous and we know this because amongst other shootings and acts of violence.”
This isn’t the first time Gaga has spoken out about mental health. In October, she penned an emotional essay about the urgent need for more mental health services across the globe – as well as calling for the stigma surrounding mental illness to end.
At the awards ceremony, Gaga set out her plan for a specific mental health programme that doesn’t simply respond to emergency situation or focus on medical answers.
“By the year 2030, I wish for everybody to have their person that they can talk to who is an expert and can help them. I am beckoning for this because it is perceived by many that mental health is only talked about in the midst of crisis or when something needs to be fixed. I want teams in place to provide prevention.
“We need to not only think in terms of doctors, billable hours and hospital stays but protective and preventative care for ourselves and each other, holistically. Do you have a mental health team? Who is on it? Who are the people you can turn to? What are the activities that can reduce our stress?”
She also paid tribute to her mental health team, saying “I have learned now are treatable and I can stop living in fear and begin living with bravery.”
“And after working as hard as I possibly could to achieve my dreams, slowly but surely the word “yes,” “yes,” “sure,” became too automatic,” she continued. “And my inner voice shut down which I have learned now is very unhealthy. I was not empowered to say no.”
Earlier this year, Gaga was forced to cancel the remaining dates on her ‘Joanne’ world tour due to her continued battle with fibromyalgia.
In 2016, she also penned an emotional open letter that directly tackled her battles with PTSD.