In 2008, a 16 year old Demi Lovato became a rising star through her lead role in the Disney Channel movie ‘Camp Rock’ alongside the Jonas Brothers. The role rocketed her to global teen stardom. In the same year she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and released her debut album “Don’t Forget”. The album debut at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100. Just before the release of the album, Lovato embarked on her first tour, and also appeared on the Jonas Brothers’ Burnin’ Up Tour.
To the world, Lovato’s success knew no bounds. Internally her problems were shielded. In 2011 she reported a history of drug abuse and self harm, checked into rehabilitation and was diagnosed with bipolar depression. Following her diagnosis the artist has vocally campaigned about living with a mental illness and her journey through recovery. She is the spokesperson for Be Vocal, which is an initiative that focuses on helping individuals and communities with mental illness advocate for themselves and for others.
Driven by her own story with mental health, Lovato recently executive-produced a new documentary called “Beyond Silence”. The film follows three people - Jeff Fink, Lauren Burke and Lloyd Hale, and their experiences with mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. Though each of them suffer from different disorders, they have a common ground of dealing with mental illness.
In a recent interview with Variety, Lovato said “You can hear in the documentary how different they are, but also how alike they are. It’s important that we get that message out there because mental health is so important — it’s just important as physical health.”
Lovato worked on the film with photographer and filmmaker Shaul Schwarz. She also collaborated with Sunovion Pharmaceuticals and five major mental health organisations - who nominated Fink, Burke and Hale to play major roles in the film.
Lovato hopes that the documentary both educates and inspires people to spark deeper conversations around mental health. She aspires to push the idea that asking for help and being expressive about one’s mental health is vital for both the process of recovery and thriving while co-existing with mental illness. She said “I hope that this film will show people that there is nothing wrong with having a mental health condition. If you do have one, you are able to live well and thrive with a mental health condition, if you are able to speak up and be vocal about the things you are going through.”
When asked about her own recovery process, Lovato shared her realisation that being vocal about her own struggles resonates with those who suffer from the same or similar conditions. This inspired her to be open about her journey. She continued: “There’s something about when you speak out and are vocal about your story, it’s very inviting to others who are dealing with the same thing. And if you can make that impact on somebody’s life, it does something for you spiritually that makes you want to tell the story again and again and again.”
For those without the financial resources to enter a rehab clinic, Lovato says that Bevocalspeakup.com offers several pathways for people to obtain the help that they need, whether it’s a hotline or a list of methods that guide people on how to approach speaking with the people around them.
She ended by saying “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.”