Four years ago, Demi Lovato admitted to the world that she struggles with bipolar disorder.
Now, she wants to have something good come from her struggle. She is using her notoriety and fame as a platform for change, advocating for mental health reform at the congressional level.
She told People, “I went through several years of pain and suffering, and I want to be able to help people and help try to prevent that suffering from happening.” The 23-year-old pop star will meet with legislators as a representative of Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, which is an initiative of the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day on Tuesday, in Washington, D.C.
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Lovato believes in “comprehensive mental health reform” and better access to health care, but she says destigmatization of mental illness is going to be her main focus.
She said, “I think it’s important that people no longer look at mental illness as something taboo to talk about. It’s something that’s extremely common, one in five adults has a mental illness, so basically everyone is essentially connected to this problem and this epidemic.”
Lovato has had more than her fair share of struggles in the public eye, too, with both mental health issues and self-harm problems stemming from her inability to regulate her mental health. At 18, Lovato quit the Jonas Brothers tour and entered a rehab facility for an eating disorder and cutting, reaching out just months later for help after a terrible meltdown.
She continued, “The problem with mental illness is people don’t look at the physical illness. When you think about it, the brain is actually the most complex organ in your body. We need to treat it like a physical illness and take it seriously.”
She also said, “One thing that I’ve learned while dealing with this in the public eye has been that as rewarding as it is sharing my story and helping others, it’s important to take care of myself as well. I think that’s been something that’s really resonated with me over the past year. It’s great to get outside of yourself and help others, but it’s also important that I stay dedicated to my treatment plan and make sure that I can help myself before others.”
This is also a profound statement and shows just how far she has come, from self-destruction to realizing that she needs to make her own mental and physical health a priority to even be in a position to help others. Now a champion of body positivity, Lovato manages her bipolar disorder and depression with medication and a strong support system.