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At NAMI Convention, Demi Lovato Tells Congress To Pass A Bill This Year For Mental Health

At NAMI Convention, Demi Lovato Tells Congress To Pass A Bill This Year For Mental Health
Demi Lovato went to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass a mental health care bill this year. Screenshot, Twitter "Demi Lavoto News"

Singer Demi Lovato and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) have one thing in common: bipolar disorder. Both of them have publically spoken out about their struggle with mental illness, but now they are working together to push Congress to pass mental health legislation, the Business Standard reported.

At this year’s National Alliance on Mental Illness Annual Convention on Thursday, some of the biggest leaders in the mental health community were in attendance, including the alliance's executive director, Mary Giliberti, as well as Kennedy and Lovato, to advocate for an urgent mental health care bill. “Today our message is very clear. It’s time for Congress to act for mental health by supporting the passage of a comprehensive mental health bill this year,” Lovato said in CSPAN's video of the convention.

Kennedy expressed his gratitude to Lovato for joining NAMI’s efforts. “I tell you, Demi. You’re our skyscraper," he said, referring to her song "Skyscraper," "when it comes to standing up tall, when things are falling around us because of the stigma and discrimination against mental health, and to have someone like you willing to take a stand means something to all of us, and we're really grateful again that you're here.”

Lovato, 22, is a younger voice in the mental health care movement. She spoke out publically about her mental illness in her MTV documentary “Stay Strong.” She also shared a little bit of her dark past and present struggles with bipolar disorder at the convention.

Demi Lovato's Personal Struggle With Mental Illness

“I had very low periods that were so emotionally draining, that I couldn’t find the strength to crawl out of bed in the morning.  I was withdrawn, disconnected, and very angry. There were stretches of time that I felt nothing but shame. I would medicate myself with drugs and alcohol in an effort to feel normal. Not better, just normal,” she said at the convention.

In her documentary, Lovato talks about refusing help when it came to her mental health. She had every reason to be happy but was extremely angry and developed an eating disorder and began to cut herself to self-medicate. She says she can relate to Kennedy, who said at the convention that he, too, turned to alcohol as a way to cope with his mental illness.

One of Lovato’s key messages to Congress was to provide comprehensive care for people who have mental illness. Even with her fame and fortune, her fight against mental illness has not been an easy one, and without the proper care, she said she wouldn’t be where she is today. Now that she is on her way to enjoying a more beautiful and healthier life, she wants others to join her. “We need to send a simple message to our nation’s leaders. Mental health matters, and needs, and must be taken seriously,” she said.

After the convention, Lovato, Kennedy, and other supporters went to Capitol Hill to share a clear message with Congress: Mental illness needs to be dealt with just like any other illness. “Go up there and talk about simply treating the brain like any other organ of the body,” Kennedy said.

One out of 17 Americans lives with a serious mental illness and 10 percent of children and adolescents suffer from a mental or emotional disorder, NAMI reported in a fact sheet. Lovato wants to help keep these populations from falling through the cracks, which is why getting a bill passed is so important to her. She has even written a book about living with a mental illness, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year, to help others who are just like her who need to get comprehensive mental health care. This year, Lovato's book made the New York Times bestseller list.

 

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