“It’s really great because we all really bonded when we were younger and toured together,” Lovato, 24, told PEOPLE exclusively before sharing the stage with Jonas’ band DNCE for an exclusive Marriott Rewards Members concert in Los Angeles on Thursday. “We’ve all watched each other evolve and grow up, and we’ve been able to be there for one another. It’s awesome.”
According to Jonas, 27, there are two types of friends: real friends and red carpet friends. It’s safe to say the pair’s friendship is much more meaningful than a hug on the press line.
“It’s nice that in this crazy industry we have friends like this,” he says. “It’s genuine. It’s not like red carpet friends where you hug them and never talk to them again. We actually get to spend time together, and it makes shows like this a lot of fun.”
Lovato was quick to agree. “It’s great to have friends who are supportive instead of red carpet friends,” Lovato says. “It feels great and they’re family.”
Family is there for each other through thick and thin, and that’s exactly why their relationship has endured. Since entering a treatment facility in 2011 to combat bulimia, cutting, bipolar disorder and addiction, Lovato has completely turned her life around. This isn’t lost on Jonas, who said in a recent interview with Billboard that she’s “the best version of herself I’ve ever known.”
The praise touches Lovato deeply. “It feels amazing and it’s definitely not been easy,” she tells PEOPLE. “There’s been a lot of hard work that I’ve put into myself, but it’s all been worth it, and that’s really nice to hear.”
In fact, she’s now a co-owner of CAST Centers – the treatment facility where she had been a patient.
“I decided to partner with CAST Centers because I saw what they had to offer and they changed my life – they saved my life,” she says. “I want to do a lot of good in this world, so what’s better than to partner up with a treatment center I once went to, and give my input and hopefully take more people in and change lives.”
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Lovato has become a major champion for mental health reform, even speaking at the Democratic National Convention in July. While her new role as an outspoken advocate has many positive benefits, one in particular shines above the rest.
“The best part is being able to hear stories – from teenage girls who have said I have helped them through their eating disorders, to 50 to 60-year-old men who say they have gotten sober because of my book or because of some things I’ve said. Seeing the results and hearing the stories: that’s the most rewarding thing ever.”