Lady Gaga shifts focus toward mental health after Oscar win

Aaron Poole / ©A.M.P.A.S.

After winning the Oscar for Best Original Song, Lady Gaga is shifting her focus towards mental health, seeking to highlight how many people are facing challenges in isolation without others knowing.

Gaga penned a letter to supporters of the Born This Way Foundation, sharing how she had suffered from mental health issues and what it meant for her to have someone to support her, and who could understand what she was going though:

“Talking about mental health is one of the bravest things a person can do. It’s brave to ask for help, to find a way to reach out through the pain and the fear and - all to often - the shame that you’ve been taught to feel. And it’s brave to see someone who’s hurting and to resist the urge to look away, to find the confidence and the words to be there for another human when need they need it the most.

“I want to be brave - and I want you to be brave with me. I want us to be truthful about our own experiences with mental health, and I want us to be there for the people in our lives who are struggling. It’s the only way we’ll know that we’re not alone, and it’s the only way that things will get better. But being brave isn’t something that you just find the will to do one day, it’s something that you learn and practice. It’s a skill that can be taught and that we can integrate into our own lives.

“As humans we innately want to support each other but it can be hard to know when another person is in need. So often mental health challenges are obscured by isolation or the brave faces we put on to hide how we’re really feeling, making it harder to see when someone else is hurting or to know what to do to help. While these can be tough conversations to have, there are resources out there that can teach us how to have them. And in a world where one in five of us will face a mental challenge in a given year, we all need to learn how to support each other.”

She has launched a fundraiser on Facebook to raise donations for a new teen Mental Health First aid project with the National Council for Behavioral Health that will begin a pilot program with 8 schools later in 2019. More than 400 people have already contributed in the past several days, raising $12,000 at the time of writing that will go towards the program.

“One in five teens are living with a mental health challenge, so it’s no wonder that young people have overwhelmingly told us they want to learn these skills. They want to know how to spot the signs that a friend is struggling with their mental health. They want to know how to help a peer who is contemplating suicide or self harm. They want to know how to effectively support one another and it’s our job to give them the tools they need to do so. It’s a crucial step towards fostering the mental health of young people – and saving lives.

“This effort is the culmination of years of hard work from the Foundation and our incredible partners at the National Council. But it’s also deeply personal for me, rooted in my own life experience. I know what it means to have someone support me and understand what I’m going through, and every young person in the world should have someone to turn to when they’re hurting. It saved my life, and it will save theirs.”
- Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga set up the Born This Way Foundation, with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta in 2012 to inspire bravery and empower youth.

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