Demi Lovato is Using her Voice to De-stigmatize Mental Illness
Lovato is using her powerhouse vocals for more than music.
This weekend, Demi Lovato is headlining the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai, India. Follow @GlblCtzn and @GlblCtznIn Twitter on Saturday, Nov. 19, to see all the action.
Demi Lovato’s hit “Skyscraper” is an inspirational anthem of resilience. It’s a song that reflects her triumph over her struggles with bulimia, addiction, and mental illness. That message of triumph over adversity is also the one she wants to send out to her fans.
“If there’s anybody out there tonight that doesn’t feel beautiful enough or worthy enough, you’re wrong, because you guys are all so incredible … If you’re dealing with any of the issues I’ve been through, don’t be afraid to speak up, because someone will be there for you. And if you think you’re alone, put on my music so that I’ll be there for you,” Lovato told the crowd at one concert.
But she doesn’t just lend support through music, the star is a vocal advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental illness and a champion of several other causes.
"It sounds ridiculous but, like, I kind of made a pact with God," Demi told CBS News. "And I don’t even think you’re supposed to do that, but I was, like, I promised, ‘If you make me a singer one day, I’m going to use my voice for so much more than singing, and I’m going to help people with it.’" And she has kept that promise.
At age 18, Lovato could boast more success than most people several decades her senior — but then her personal struggles took over her life. Choosing to make positive change, she checked herself into rehab for bulimia and self-harming, and later for substance. It was there that she diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began her path to recovery. She now co-owns the rehab facility.
After her recovery, the singer began speaking about her struggles in an MTV documentary called Demi Lovato: Stay Strong. She followed the documentary with a book, called Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year, full of lessons, inspirational quotes, and reflections to support those battling with similar demons.
In 2013, Lovato established the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program, after her father who also struggled with mental illness lost his battle with cancer. The program helps those who cannot afford mental healthcare treatment meet the costs.
More recently, Lovato has launched a public health campaign, called Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, in partnership with five other mental health organizations.
As the face of the campaign, the former Disney star speaks openly about mental illness and encourages others to do the same.
"It's also about speaking up for your community … taking action, whether it's writing a letter to Congress and telling them how this is affecting you and your life and how you would like to see mental health care more accessible in your community,” Lovato told People.com.
“There were so many times when I felt like I was alone, especially when I was dealing with bipolar depression … [but] as someone who has learned to live well with bipolar disorder, I really want to share with others that there can be life on the other side of hard times,” she has said of her advocacy work.
Learn More: Why Global Citizen Is Campaigning in India
Over the years, many fans have thanked Lovato for speaking and singing openly about her battles. “When I have meet-and-greets, I can’t tell you the amount of times that girls will show me their arms covered in scars or cuts … [and] tell me, ‘You helped me get through this. Because of you, I stopped self-harming,’ or ‘I got sober.’ Hearing those things gave my life new meaning,” she told American Way Magazine.
Her trip to Capitol Hill and appearance on the DNC stage were not her first forays into political advocacy. For many years, Lovato has supported Voto Latino, an organization that encourages Latino Americans to register to vote, co-founded by Rosario Dawson.
Lovato is also a proud LGBT ally. She cancelled her North Carolina performances in protest of the state’s ruling on the “bathroom bill” and rocked a top with a gender-neutral bathroom symbol during her Billboard Music Awards performance.
Between her Instagram and Twitter accounts, the superstar has over 80 million followers, otherwise known as Lovatics. She regularly uses her social media platforms to voice her opinions and speak out against social injustices.
After a judge ruled in favor of producer Dr.Luke and Sony Music in a controversial case against singer Kesha, Lovato took to social media in support of the singer. She expressed frustration at the way women’s sexual assault claims are often treated and called for women’s empowerment and change.
Frustrating to see women come forward with their past only to be shot down, not believed & disrespected for their bravery in taking action— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
Happens way too often. I'm ready for women to be taken just as seriously as men..— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
As most people know, I tend to get fired up about the things I believe in, and although my heart and intentions are always in the right place, unfortunately sometimes my passion gets the best of me and causes me to say things that I probably shouldn't say. And when doing so it takes away from the real reason I am speaking up in the first place. Our focus should be on the topic of victims of sexual and physical abuse being afraid to come forward with their stories. They're more likely to face retaliation and harassment than to see justice being served. Especially women. It baffles me that when it comes to serious issues like equality and abuse, too often women are not taken as seriously as men. All I want to see is women coming together and actually making a difference. A real change and shift in society. Everyone has their own way of giving support to others , and at the end of the day, helping victims is all that matters. Ultimately, the message I want people to hear is it's okay to come forward with your abuse and if you do decide to take action, you are not alone.
The star has worked hard both on her career and different advocacy campaigns. However, her agenda is perfectly summed up by her hashtag: equality for all.
Okay I'm really tired.. Going to bed. Love you all. #equalityforALL (not just women) 👊🏼💗— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
Lovato is a true believer and champion of equality. Her powerful voice is moving in music and persuasive when is comes to making change. She’s a “Warrior” and she’ll be bringing that strength and passion to Global Citizen Festival this month and the world stage for many years to come.