"Our society tends to shame or ignore those with mental illness, and I want to change that."
Several months ago, Demi Lovato launched The Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour.
She talked about living with bipolar disorder and the importance of seeking help in a video, which you can watch below.
She's definitely working hard to change things. In the video, she explains:
"I'm living proof that someone can live, love, and be well with bipolar disorder when they get the education, support, and treatment they need.
I want to shine a light on the people out there who, like me, are learning to live well with mental illness by getting the right diagnosis and finding the right treatment plan.
If you or someone you care about could use help, reach out for support. Asking for help when you're struggling is a sign of strength. You can be your own advocate, and you have the power to help advocate for the people in your life, too."
In May 2015, Lovato officially launched Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health.
Bipolar disorder is part of my life, but it doesn't define me. For those struggling with #mentalhealth issues, it's so important to speak up for yourself and learn how to live well. That's why I teamed up with key advocacy groups and Sunovion to launch #BeVocalSpeakUp
A photo posted by Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) on
She teamed up with advocacy groups and a pharmaceutical company for the initiative, which encourages people to vocally support mental health. The purpose is to empower adults who have mental health conditions "to speak up when talking with their professional support team and to speak up as a community to advance mental health in America."
Lovato shares on Be Vocal's site that she finally hit rock bottom after "years of abusing her body and self-medicating." She was admitted to an inpatient program, where she was diagnosed with bipolar depression — that's the depressive phase of bipolar disorder. She tells her experience:
"Getting a diagnosis was kind of a relief. It helped me start to make sense of the harmful things I was doing to cope with what I was experiencing. Now I had no choice but to move forward and learn how to live with it, so I worked with my healthcare professional and tried different treatment plans until I found what works for me."
A few months ago, Lovato celebrated three years of sobriety. Now she's putting herself out there as an example of living well with mental illness.
Lovato is not alone. Mental illness is fairly prevalent.
In 2013, an estimated 43.8 million Americans over the age of 18 had dealt with a mental illness during the past year. Of those, over 10 million had experienced a serious mental illness.
That's a lot of people. In fact, that first number makes up over 18% of the U.S. population.
It's definitely time we strip away the stigma and talk about depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.
If you think you could have a mental illness, talk to your doctor. If you're being treated for one but don't feel like it's working well, keep speaking up to your health care professionals. Mental illnesses are real and need treatment.