Lady Gaga gets real about mental health struggles and demands change

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation

Lady Gaga may have just recently added acting to her repertoire with the aptly-titled A Star Is Born but considering the moving speeches she's been delivering lately, if the singer-songwriter wanted to seek out another career to dominate and tour as a motivational speaker, we think people would line up by the hundreds.

Last night she was honoured at the third annual SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Patron of the Artists Awards fundraiser and spoke for an incredibly moving 25 minutes, admitting that she didn't quite feel like she belonged and took three-and-a-half hours to write a speech that she confessed would be too long.

The musician and actress has always been open when it comes to her own mental health struggles, but Gaga used her time at the podium as a call to action to support those who need it.

“We really need to do even more,” said Gaga. “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 open thing: mental health.”

She went on to call the mental health crisis a global one, and highlighted some shocking statistics, like the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24, and that mental health receives less than 1 per cent of global aid.

Since this event was the day after the U.S.’s most recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, Gaga talked about the overwhelming cycle of tragic news, and offered an alternative: “Let’s make kindness overwhelming. Let’s live in a culture of kindness through our individual acts and take back what determines our future.”

Her speech was at times peppered with expletives, but only because of her passion. "Who I see when I look into this room are a group of leaders. And I want to help you raise a sh---ton of f--king money!" There were several applause breaks and laughs.

She also referenced her own mental health struggles with anxiety, stress, suicidal thoughts and masochistic behaviour. “I needed help,” Gaga said. “I wish there had been a system in place to empower me to say no to toxic work environments and people of questionable behavior. I wish I’d had [the SAG-AFTRA Foundation] when I was 19.”

Along with Gaga’s expression of hope for a world where “mental health no longer resides and festers in the darkness,” co-honouree Harrison Ford, who was introduced by Ryan Gosling, spoke about the environment, saying that “the natural world doesn’t need people, but people need nature.”

Other honourees at the Foundation’s event, which celebrates those who have supported the careers of performing artists, included director Spike Lee and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, with Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Alison Brie and host Rachel Bloom gracing the red carpet before Kristin Chenoweth, Adam Lambert and Dave Koz performed.