Pop star Demi Lovato is set to take a stand in front of members of Congress as she pushes for comprehensive mental health reform in America.
Four years ago, the Skyscraper singer revealed she suffers from bi-polar disorder, and on Tuesday (06Oct15), she's slated to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health initiative.
As part of the National Council for Behavioral Health's Hill Day, Lovato is aiming to raise awareness of mental illness and destigmatise it by being candid with her own experience.
"I went through several years of pain and suffering, and I want to be able to help people and help try to prevent that suffering from happening," the 23 year old tells People magazine. "I think it's important that people no longer look at mental illness as something taboo to talk about. It's something that's extremely common, one in five adults has a mental illness, so basically everyone is essentially connected to this problem and this epidemic.
"The problem with mental illness is people don't look at it as a physical illness. When you think about it, the brain is actually the most complex organ in your body. We need to treat it like a physical illness and take it seriously."
Lovato, who also struggled with drug addiction and bulimia, is eager to share her experience so that she can help others, but is also aware she needs to put her and her health first in order to set a good example for her fans and others dealing with similar problems.
"One thing that I've learned while dealing with this in the public eye has been that as rewarding as it is sharing my story and helping others, it's important to take care of myself as well," she says. "I think that's been something that's really resonated with me over the past year. It's great to get outside of yourself and help others, but it's also important that I stay dedicated to my treatment plan and make sure that I can help myself before others."