Demi Lovato has long been open about her experiences of mental health issues, substance abuse and self-harm. The 24-year-old singer, who first found fame aged just 16 in the 2008 Disney movie Camp Rock, entered rehab in 2011, where she was diagnosed with bipolar depression and treated for bulimia.
Ever since, she has made a point of speaking frankly about living with bipolar depression – the depressive phase of bipolar disorder – in the hope of shattering the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Already a spokesperson for US mental health charity Be Vocal, she is now adding another string to her advocacy bow: that of film-maker.
Lovato served as executive producer on new film Beyond Silence, which explores the true stories of three people living with different mental illnesses. And in a new interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the musician discusses her relationship with her own mental health.
“I’m bipolar and proud, and I live well with it, and I think that’s the goal for everyone with a mental illness,” she tells DeGeneres, explaining that she hoped Beyond Silence would highlight the fact that it is possible to have a mental illness and still lead a full, successful and happy life.
“The reality is one in five Americans has a mental health condition,” she says. “So as long as they get the right treatment plan, then they can live well with it.”
Beyond Silence follows Jeff Fink, Lauren Burke and Lloyd Hale, three Americans who live with a variety of mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. While these are very different disorders, Lovato told Variety in another recent interview that she wanted to show audiences that they shared some common ground.
“You can hear in the documentary how different they are, but also how alike they are,” she said.
“It’s important that we get that message out there because mental health is so important – it’s just as important as physical health.”
Watch: What not to say to an anxiety sufferer
Lovato worked on the film with photographer and film-maker Shaul Schwarz and five leading mental health organisations, who suggested Fink, Burke and Hale to appear in the documentary.
“I hope that this film will show people that there is nothing wrong with having a mental health condition,” she said.
“It’s very important we create conversations, we take away the stigma, and that we stand up for ourselves if we’re dealing with the symptoms of a mental illness.
“It is possible to live well and thrive with a mental illness.”
You can watch Beyond Silence here.
Images: Rex Features