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News > Science and Tech

Celebrities Demand Global Action to Combat Mental Health Stigma

  • Mental health disorders are on the rise around the world and could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion.

    Mental health disorders are on the rise around the world and could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 October 2018

Celebrities are opening up about their personal struggles with mental illness, from severe anxiety to crippling depression.

Over 800,000 people commit suicide every year, U.S. singer Lady Gaga and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom wrote in an article for Mental Health Awareness Day.


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“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,” the pair wrote in an opinion piece published in the Guardian Wednesday.

Celebrities around the globe have united, opening up about their personal struggles with mental illness like severe anxiety or, as in Lady Gaga’s case, crippling depression.

“Within families and communities, we often remain silenced by a shame that tells us that those with mental illness are somehow less worthy or at fault for their own suffering,” the two activists said.

In developing nations, the situation is particularly difficult due to the shortage of proper medical professionals as well as the stigma surrounding the condition.

“In too many places support services are non-existent and those with treatable conditions are criminalized – literally chained up in inhumane conditions, cut off from the rest of society without hope,” the writers said.

On past occasions, the singer has reminded audiences that mental health is equally important to a person's well-being as physical health. Less than one percent of global aid is donated to mental health; even in developed countries, the issue is dismissed.

"At present, every nation in the world is a 'developing' country when it comes to mental health," the pair wrote.

U.S. Politician Bernie Sanders echoed these sentiments from his personal Twitter account, writing, “As a nation (the U.S) must fix our broken healthcare system and give mental behavioral healthcare the attention and resources they deserve.”

The article explained that around the world, mental health conditions cost roughly US$2.5 trillion per year, “a figure that is expected to balloon to $6tn by 2030 unless we take action.”

At least 177 countries were featured in a report from WHO earlier this year which charted the progressive implementation of its 2013 global action plan on mental health. According to the Guardian op-ed, despite some improvements in communities around the world, there’s still a long way to go.

Lady Gaga and Adhanom closed by saying, “The two of us have taken different paths in life. But both of us have seen how political leadership, funding, innovation and individual acts of bravery and compassion can change the world. It is time to do the same for mental health.”

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