Lady Gaga Gets Candid About Her Self-Harm Experiences But Won't "Glamorise" It

"I say that with a lot of humility and strength."

Lady Gaga has always been an open book about her struggles, speaking candidly about mental health issues, surviving sexual assault and experiencing chronic illness – it’s one of the reasons her fans love her so much. However, in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for Elle Magazine, Gaga said there are certain elements of her past she doesn’t want to “glamorise.”

Speaking to Oprah, Gaga said she was always hesitant to speak about her experiences with self-harm, worrying about the impact it might have on fans. “I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realise that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help,” she said.

“When I realised that telling someone, ’Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,′ that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, ‘You don’t have to show me. Just tell me: What are you feeling right now?’ And then I could just tell my story.”

“I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorise it,” she added.

While Gaga admits self-harm isn’t something that should be romanticised, she said she believes the conversation around it is an “important thing for people to know and hear.”

One of the ways Gaga has turned her struggles into positivity is via the Born This Way Foundation. The foundation, started in 2012 by Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, aims to “support the mental and emotional wellness of young people by putting their needs, ideas, and voices first,” through action-oriented programs and useful resources. 

In June this year, Gaga brought an Australian-born program teaching “mental health first aid” in high schools all the way to the United States. The program covers issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders as well as facing suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

“It helps kids identify when a friend might be in trouble and how to have a supportive conversation,” program designer Dr. Claire Kelly told Triple J’s Hack. The program could be particularly pivotal, considering young Aussie are more psychologically distressed than ever before.

It’s inspirational to see someone like Lady Gaga use their platform and past struggles to help people take real action and keep the conversation about mental health open. Cheers to you, Gaga. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. 

It's Time To Acknowledge Young Aussies Are More Psychologically Distressed Than Ever Before

We need real change.

There’s no doubt that poor mental health is something that affects us all. In fact, mental health struggles have become so part-and-parcel with everyday life that there are now thousands of social media accounts dedicated to ‘depression memes.’ 

We’re all aware of our mental health issues, but we need to acknowledge the fact that more young people in Australia are experiencing psychological distress than before. 

According to a new report by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute, almost one in four Australians between the ages of 15 and 19 are experiencing mental health challenges. Sadly, young females are twice as likely as males to be facing this issue, and it only gets worse for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to their non-Indigenous peers.

The Can We Talk? report, which spanned over seven years from 2012 to 2018, found that the top issues of concern for young Australians include stress, mental health, school and study problems. With this year’s HSC kicking off just one week ago, these findings are more poignant than ever.

The report also found that stigma, embarrassment, fear and lack of support were the most common barriers that stop young people from seeking help. 

“The sheer volume of young people who are struggling with mental health difficulties shows that there remains an urgent need for improved access to timely, accessible and appropriate support,” Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said. 

Toomey added that resources need to be made available for young people “irrespective of location, background or gender.” 

Black Dog Institute Director and Chief Scientist, Prof. Helen Christensen said, “global research tells us that over 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, and these can have lifelong consequences.”

Both Christensen and Toomey urged the government to listen to young people’s concerns, for parents, peers, schools and healthcare professionals to be adequately equipped with more resources, and for the Internet to be a place where young people can find online and app-based tools for support. 

In the midst of a climate crisis and an ever changing political and economic landscape, we are living in particularly uncertain times. This means it is incredibly important for us to support one another and for the government to make mental health a priority. Sometimes it’s as simple as reaching out and asking, “Are you okay?”

If you, or anyone you know is experiencing mental health struggles, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 for support.

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