Demi Lovato’s Story

“Every one of us can make a difference. By getting educated on this epidemic and its frightening statistics and by breaking the stigma…”

Demi Lovato, the 23-year-old former child actress on Barney & Friends and current pop music sensation, delivered a powerful speech advocating greater mental illness awareness at the Democratic National Convention Monday night.

Lovato, who suffers from bipolar disorder, called on politicians to support laws that provide access to better health care. She said that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will fight to ensure people living with mental health conditions get the care they need.

Here’s the full text of Lovato’s remarks, after which she broke into her single “Confident.”

Like millions of Americans, I am living with mental illness. But I’m lucky. I had the resources and support to get treatment at a top facility. Unfortunately, too many Americans from all walks of life don’t get help, either because they fear the stigma or cannot afford treatment.

Untreated mental illness can lead to devastating consequences, including suicide, substance abuse, and long-term medical issues.

We can do better.

Every one of us can make a difference. By getting educated on this epidemic and its frightening statistics and by breaking the stigma, I urge every politician to support laws that will provide access to better health care and support for everyone. This is not about politics. It’s simply the right thing to do.

I’m doing my very small part by having the treatment center that saw me through my recovery on tour with me so that at least a small group of people even for a brief moment can have the same support that I received. It may not be a lot but we have to believe every small action counts.

I stand here today as proof that you can live a normal and empowered life with mental illness. I’m proud to support a presidential candidate who will fight to ensure all people living with mental health conditions get the care they need to lead fulfilling lives. That candidate is Hillary Clinton. Let’s make her the next president of the United States of America.

Lovato shared the stage on the first night of the Democratic National Convention with First Lady Michelle Obama, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker.

Lovato, currently partnering with Nick Jonas in their Future Now tour,  has battled mental illness, bulimia and addiction, and has used her celebrity status to educate and help others.

Advice to teenage girls in Seventeen magazine in April 2011:

If you are going through that dark period, go to your family and closest friends. Don’t put yourself in danger. It’s very crucial that you get your feelings out—but don’t ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.

On HuffPost Live in May 2015:

I was dealing with bipolar depression and didn’t know what was wrong with me. Little did I know, there was a chemical imbalance in my brain. Because I didn’t tell people what I need, I ended up self-medicating and coping with very unhealthy behaviors.

 

The Economic Cost of Depression

Many advocates of mental health care legislation before Congress argue it will reduce gun violence. Other supporters emphasize the need to tackle mental illness as a public health rather than public safety issue. Few proponents bring up one of the best arguments of them all: the need to address the devastating economic impact of mental illness.

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A study published in April in The Lancet Psychiatry says that across the 36 largest countries in the world, failure to upgrade treatment for depression and anxiety will lead to nearly $1 trillion in lost economic productivity—more than 12 billion days of lost productivity, equivalent to more than 50 million years of work.

According to the study, led by the World Health Organization, between 1990 and 2013 the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50 percent. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s population is affected, and mental disorders account for 30 percent of the global non-fatal disease burden.

The authors say that $147 billion in investment is needed over the next 15 years to upgrade treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. The return on the investment, they contend, would be $400 billion in economic productivity gains.

Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO:

“We know that treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and wellbeing; this new study confirms that it makes sound economic sense too. We must now find ways to make sure that access to mental health services becomes a reality for all men, women and children, wherever they live.”

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group:

“Despite hundreds of millions of people around the world living with mental disorders, mental health has remained in the shadows. This is not just a public health issue—it’s a development issue. We need to act now because the lost productivity is something the global economy simply cannot afford.”

The Harvard Business School and US News and World Report weighed in with reports on the WHO study here and here.

Focus On Emotional Well-Being

Arianna Huffington speaks to U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy about the importance of emotional well-being.

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Murthy lists emotional well-being as one of his six priorities as surgeon general:

Mental and emotional health is just as important to our overall well-being as our physical health. Mental illness is responsible for more disability than any other group of illnesses. But a large percentage of people with mental health conditions may not feel comfortable talking about their condition or getting effective treatment. The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health (1999) spotlights ways to overcome barriers to treatment. Positive mental and emotional well-being allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Sammus’s Story

The Ithaca rapper (and Cornell University grad student) known as Sammus has opened up about her struggle with depression in an article by Dexter Thomas in the Los Angeles Times. The article gives the background to Sammus’ recent single and video, “1080p.” As Thomas explains, “‘1080p’ is about relationships, school and life, but it’s mostly about Sammus’ battle with depression, pills and thoughts of suicide.” Watch the video, it’s powerful.

Thomas was moved to tears by the song. He and Sammus (Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) were close friends at Cornell, but she had hidden her pain:

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me they feel guilty for not realizing what was happening to me,” she said. “But that just shows the lengths I took to insulate myself. I did a lot of work to make sure that nobody knew what I was struggling with. I knew you would never judge me. But I just wasn’t ready to have those conversations. Not with you, not with anybody. I was very intentional about projecting myself as a very happy-go-lucky person.”

Thomas asks himself: “Do I have other friends who are struggling without my realizing it?”

Check out Sammus’ website for more about her story and her music.

Sammus has two upcoming gigs in Ithaca:

July 20: CFCU Summer Concert Series on the Bernie Milton Pavilion stage in the Ithaca Commons.

August 4: Ithaca Underground concert at the Sacred Root Kava Lounge and Tea Bar.

1080p by Sammus

Verse 1
I’m kind of scared of the academy
I think that my parents are proud of me
I just wish I knew how to be comfortable here —
I never feel like I’m allowed to breathe
Rubbing shoulders with these old nerds
Rockin’ sweater vests in they office hours
Eatin’ hors d’œuvres while I soul search
Tryna make some sense of the ivory tower
Feelin sober
Am I just a coward?
Or a poser?
I don’t really doubt it
Or a soldier?
Books in holsters
But the setting sucks I can’t fight the power
Cuz they write books nobody reads
For these white folks that they tryna please
Recycle all the right quotes tryna cite blokes ain’t my cup of tea
Eatin’ chex mix
Feelin’ helpless
I really miss my fuckin’ ex it’s
Such mindfuck
Cuz we never talk
Yet we still share a fuckin’ Netflix
And every day I apologize
To the poor kid that we never had
The emotion of the whole thing
Make me so sick
It’s fucking sad
What you don’t get is how focused
That I had to be cuz you couldn’t provide
Mad at me cuz I’m losing my mind
Had to leave at a terrible time
Prednisone — I can barely breathe
Now the pressure gone but I barely sleep
So I ring your phone but you don’t respond
Had to put myself in some therapy
Now my Therapist she take care of me
Like Sierra mist things are clear to see
Now I’m seeing the world in 1080p x2

Chorus: Voicemail Message

Verse 2
Been a few months since the last verse
Since I called you bad words
I went ahead and got my masters
I trimmed the last of my relaxer
So my fro big
Got some mo’ gigs
My cell phone says I’m roaming
Cuz I’m on tour
I want more
Forget home so I go big
I was taking pills up in the bathroom
— ended up alone in grad school
I’m Mario I busted ass but
My prize is sitting in another castle
In a tight spot trying to disappear
I would write songs for my friends to hear
—-I’m tryna keep my lights on
I’m a Nikon now it’s crystal clear
Opportunity is at my doorstep
So I’m moving back up on the horse like
It’s the first time I ever wore specks
Now I do my thing like life’s a Rorschach
I see things nobody sees
Since my bee stings turned to double ds
I’m conceding
That my feelings
Is amazing
Now I’m lovin’ me!
I could give it up where’s the fun in that?
Gotta live it up or you will never laugh
Life’s a box of chocolates with a lot of options
Gotta keep it rocking life’s a rumble pack
The first letter of your first name
Makes your name emerge when I search things

And it hurts me but I guarantee
That without you I’m a better me
Now I see the past with some clarity
Glad I took my ass to some therapy
Now I’m seeing the world in 1080p x2

Chorus: Voicemail

Facebook’s New Suicide Prevention Tools

Facebook has enhanced and expanded the geographical reach of tools designed to rescue people whose social media behavior signals a possible intention to commit suicide. Facebook users can report a worrying post, receive guidance from trained experts on how to help their friend, and if evaluated as an immediate threat get instructions on how to alert emergency services. If deemed serious, the reporting will also trigger a stream of suggestions for getting help into the distressed person’s Facebook news feed.

Given the intense connection that many people have with social media—Facebook has about 1.4 billion users—some experts believe the new tools can have a tangible impact.

The Mighty has a good illustrated guide on how it works here.

mighty

The New York Times had a story on June 15 explaining how the new tools work.

Also read the report from the website of the University of Washington, whose Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention organization collaborated with Facebook on the tools. The new tools were announced at Compassion Research Day at Facebook headquarters on February 25.