Thursday, October 8, 2015

Demi Lovato Talks Mental Illness

Mother and duaghter pose for a photo
Andrew Solomon says people feel that mental illness in a child "reflects
their failure as parents" - which is simply not true.
Mental illness isn’t really something we like to talk about. No one wants to hear about depression, anxiety, schizophrenia--they just aren’t pretty topics. But that doesn’t mean we can simply not address them; in fact, one of the problems facing mental illness today is that we don’t talk about it, and so the surrounding stigma never dissipates. The good news is that more and more people seem to be willing to join the conversation, and even celebrities, who hold a lot of social influence, are opening up about their experiences.

Pop star Demi Lovato isn’t shy about her struggles with mental illness. As the current voice for a mental wellness campaign called Be Local, Lovato encourages people to discuss mental illness frankly and honestly. "I think the taboo around mental illness will get to a better place because the conversation is becoming more common, even in the media," she says. The more we open ourselves up to the presence and problem of mental illnesses, the more likely people are to get the help they need.

But there is work to do yet. According to a Ted Talk by journalist Andrew Solomon, “people still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness. They think it shows personal weakness. They think it shows a failing. If it’s their children who have mental illness, they think it reflects their failure as parents.” Of course, simply none of this is actually true. One in four people suffers from some kind of mental disorder, mild to severe. But given such a rate that high, there is no reason for anybody dealing with a disorder to feel like they are alone in it.

Lovato speaks out because she says that it helps her. By giving voice to her feelings, they lose some of their power, and she hopes that speaking similarly will help other people, too. She believes that opening dialogue about mental illness is the best way to deal with it, but she doesn’t want people to think that they can only be happy if they overcome their mental illnesses: she wants them to know that they can live a full and happy life in spite of one.

The singer advocates for getting help and getting educated. So if you are struggling or you just want to help, maybe now is the time to join the discussion.