Demi Lovato inspired me to share my experience with mental health

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:19 p.m. ET
Image: WENN.com

Demi Lovato is the new face of mental illness and she is more than ready to take on the role. Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has since become an advocate for change in the mental health system in the United States.

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While a celeb fighting for a cause may not seem new, Lovato's message is simple: You are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults struggles with a mental illness in each given year. What this means is that each and every one of us is likely affected. According to the Washington Post, Lovato went to Washington, D.C. last week as a first step to get Congress to do something.

But there is still a stigma associated with talking about mental health. Maybe we should all take some inspiration from Demi Lovato and share our stories? Here's mine: I have numerous family members who suffer from a mental illness, including addiction, depression and bipolar disorder. My life has been significantly impacted by this in many ways, but they have too often fallen between the cracks. As a teen, I was diagnosed with depression, but assumed I would grow out of it. And it's a daily struggle. As someone who is self-employed, I have put my own health (mental and otherwise) on the back burner.

According to NAMI, 60 percent of adults and almost half of kids and teens aged 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no mental health services in the last year.

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I have worked with struggling teens and young adults and have seen how mental health can affect lives. Suicide, depression and addiction is an epidemic among our youth — and adults — and it's time to do something about it.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness launched a "Day of Action," where around 1,500 people went to the nation's capital over the weekend to lobby for "a comprehensive mental health bill." Lovato was right there with them.

"Those of us here today know that mental illness has no prejudice," she told the crowd. "It affects people of every race, age, gender, religion and economic status. It doesn't discriminate between Republicans or Democrats, either."

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Lovato admitted that her bipolar diagnosis was "a relief in so many ways," and said that it was time for Congress to act.

"I want to show the world that there is life — surprising, wonderful, unexpected life — after diagnosis."

Tell us — what is your story?

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