In a visit Monday to New York City's Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth, Lady Gaga spoke to teenagers for Today's #ShareKindness segment about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, which began after she was raped when she was a teenager.
"I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness — I suffer from PTSD," Gaga said on Today. "I've never told anyone that before, so here we are," she said after the visit.
Gaga has been vocal about the way her assault has negatively impacted her mental health, but this is the first time she has openly given her experience a name: PTSD.
When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn't just have the immediate physical ramifications on you. For many people it has almost like trauma. When you re-experience it throughout the years after it, it can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress. So a lot of people suffer from not only mental and emotional pain, but also physical pain of being abused, raped, or traumatized in some type of way.
In 2012, Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, founded the Born This Way Foundation in an effort to provide support and empowerment to young people. The foundation's mission statement declares a commitment to "supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world."
On Monday's Today segment, Gaga discussed the mental health benefits that kindness has had on her life:
The kindness that's been shown to me, by doctors as well as my family and my friends, it's really saved my life. I've been searching for ways to heal myself, and I've found that kindness is the best way.
Gaga's appearance at the Ali Forney Center was the first time the singer has outright named her PTSD, a move that has been celebrated for helping to fight mental health stigma and empower others with the disorder.
Gaga's reveal inspired others to speak out on mental health stigma and feel more comfortable talking about their PTSD:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states people who have experienced trauma can exhibit higher risk of suicide. According to The Trevor Project, a national leader in crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth.
Editor's note: For information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Both provide free, anonymous support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.