Demi Lovato stamps out the stigma against mental illness sufferers
Demi Lovato is not one to shy away from discussing her struggles with bulimia, self-harm, and alcohol abuse, all of which she now recognizes as unhealthy coping mechanisms for her undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
Now, the singer is teaming up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other related advocacy groups to stomp out the negative stigma commonly associated with mental disorders.
As the face of the “Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health” initiative, Lovato’s goal is to empower those who suffer from a mental illness and may be struggling with the same feelings of helplessness and confusion that she had felt herself. She hopes to help them realize that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and that it is important to talk out personal struggles with friends, family, and doctors.
This involvement with the new campaign marks the latest in a long list of efforts to change the face of mental illness. She is also a participant in the Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour and created a treatment scholarship program in honor of her late father, who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The strong influence that a celebrity can have when raising awareness of a brand, movement, or cause is not a new concept. Celebrity endorsement essentially plays on consumer aspirations in that, if a celebrity we love is doing something, buying something, or wearing something, then fans want to do those things as well. However, Lovato’s participation in the launch of the “Be Vocal” campaign raises the idea of a celebrity ambassador to a higher level. Her power in this campaign stems from her relatability.
The value of Lovato’s presence at the center of the “Be Vocal” campaign ultimately comes from her honesty and personal accounts of her bipolar disorder. That experience allows her to understand and connect with those whom she hopes to inspire in a unique way. It also gives her a particularly strong motivation to eradicate the stigma around mental illnesses in general.
By opening up about her own history with mental illness and her struggles pre-bipolar diagnosis, Lovato becomes a rare kind of a celebrity ambassador. She becomes one who embraces vulnerability and puts fame second to humanity.
How do you think Demi Lovato and initiatives like Be Vocal can change how we view mental illness as a society? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi.