"Mental illness can affect anyone I'm so excited to raise awareness to a cause that is so close to my heart," the singer tells PEOPLE exclusively
Demi Lovato has been upfront about her struggles with mental illness for years, and now she’s furthering her advocacy by partnering with Regular Hero to raise money for her Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program.
“Mental illness can affect anyone, and although help is available, it often goes untreated,” the 22-year-old – who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder – tells PEOPLE exclusively. “This holiday season, I’m so excited to raise awareness to a cause that is close to my heart by inspiring others to seek the help that they need and encouraging folks to give back to those who can’t afford treatment.”
In a video posted to her Facebook page, Lovato tells fans she decided to found the scholarship organization for her father, Patrick, who died in 2013.
“That program came about when I lost my birth father. He suffered from mental illness. I believe that it was actually bipolar-schizophrenic, and he didn’t have the resources that he needed to get help,” says Lovato, who hopes the organization will also start conversations and tackle stigmas associated with mental illness.
“In honor of my dad and other people that couldn’t afford mental healthcare, I wanted to create a way for people to help others get the help that they need,” the singer continues in the video.
Lovato designed T-shirts (available at regularhero.org) for her “Hope Dealer” campaign, and 100-percent of the proceeds go to the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program, which raises money for mental healthcare. The singer joins a slew of celebrities – including Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Ian Somerhalder – who have taken to Facebook to share social causes close to their hearts.
Lovato first entered treatment in 2010, before revealing her struggle with mental illness, an eating disorder, self-harm and drug use.
Last year, the “Really Don’t Care” singer told Cosmopolitan for Latinas she keeps her bipolar disorder in check with medication. “It’s a daily thing,” she said, adding “medicating, checking in with people, being honest and being grateful for things” were part of her recovery and maintenance.
As for the body-image demons she’s dealt with, Lovato said: “For me, loving and accepting my flaws Being comfortable in my own skin also makes me feel beautiful.”