If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. If battling an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237.
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Demi Lovato is a vocal mental health advocate, after battling her own internal emotions and surviving an overdose. In honor of Mental Health Action Day (May 18), the “Confident” singer got candid with NBC News Now’s Savannah Sellers about her struggle with depression, an eating disorder, and suicidal thoughts.
Lovato stressed the importance of mental health check-ins with teenagers since her downward spiral began shortly after her success on Disney Channel. The now 30-year-old was propelled to stardom after starring in Camp Rock alongside the Jonas Brothers and Sonny With a Chance, a kid-friendly series.
“The very first time that I went to treatment was when I was 18,” the singer shared with NBC. “I went for my eating disorder, and I went for self-harm and emotional issues. And when I came out with that experience, I was faced with the decision of either, ‘Keep your mouth shut and not say anything’ or ‘Share your experience strength and hope with another person in hopes that it affects them in a positive way.'”
The vocalist decided to share her story to make others in similar situations feel less alone. In 2013, Lovato published a memoir Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year. In 2017 she released a documentary titled Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated followed by the Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil documentary in 2021. Within the most recent series, she reflects on her near-death experience with opioids that left her in a Los Angeles hospital.
She says she wished she had a reliable support system growing up to pull her out of the darkness.
“I wanted to help others,” she stressed. “I wish that I had somebody when I was 13 years old and having an eating disorder and starving myself. I wanted somebody in the public eye to say that ‘Hey, this is what I’ve gone through, and you don’t have to choose that route.'”
Lovato continued to encourage teenagers today to seek help, as placing your mental health first embodies strength and bravery.
“I want them to know that talking to people and asking for help is more than OK and is absolutely what you should do,” she said.
The platinum-selling performer declared that society’s unrealistic beauty standards significantly impacted her health, as Lavato thought she had to keep up to remain in the spotlight.
“When you’re looking at images of people with perfect bodies, you start to look at yourself, and you start to pick yourself apart, and it’s hard to grow up in a world where that’s right in front of your face and at your fingertips at all times,” she explained. “I grew up in a period of time where young Hollywood was very, very, very thin, and that was the look, and I think that had a really negative impact on my eating, just on my mental health, which I think fed into my eating disorder.”
Lavato assured Sellers that she’s in a stable place, and has turned to music as a healthy outlet. The Grammy-nominated artist did not sugarcoat her reality and confessed that she still experiences rough days.
The singer/songwriter teased that a rock album is on the horizon. Lavato previously re-released a rock-inspired version of her smash single “Heart Attack,” which dropped in 2013 and lives on her fourth studio album. Upon release, the electropop song peaked in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“I don’t want to paint the facade that everything is totally perfect and fine. But I am in a really good place, and it has been kind of challenging to write a happy rock album,” she uttered. “But I’m doing it! But I have bad days. I had a bad day on Sunday. I realized that even to this day, no matter how happy I might feel and seem. I’m human, and it’s OK to still struggle even when you’re in a great place.”
The hitmaker will be dropping the rock rendition of “Cool For the Summer” on May 25. She has not confirmed a date for the full-length album.
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for KLUTCH Sports Group)