Demi Lovato continues to be as outspoken as ever about mental health reform, and with her new role as co-owner of an L.A.-area addiction and wellness treatment center, the singer is hoping to bring her impact abroad.
“Out of any star I’ve ever worked with and helped, she is the most fearless advocate for helping people,” Mike Bayer, who founded CAST Centers (the facility Lovato co-owns) after overcoming his own struggle with addiction, tells PEOPLE exclusively about the singer. “She has a point of view that may not be popular and a lot of times people may be critical of that, but she’s doing what she believes is right.”
Lovato — who has been open about her bipolar disorder diagnosis and her struggles with addiction, cutting and eating disorders — first met Bayer years ago when she hit rock bottom.
“Initially the relationship was out of helping her, and then the relationship became about friendship,” says Bayer. “Then it became about how we have similar beliefs and visions of how to help change the world. We’re both super passionate about helping people.”
During Lovato and Nick Jonas’ Future Now Tour, Bayer traveled around the country with the entertainers for the CAST Centers on Tour Experience, during which celebrities and other influencers opened up about their own experiences in front of an intimate group.
“Every time we did one of these, the feedback was so incredible,” says Bayer. The next step is for Lovato and Bayer to help make a “bigger impact” in countries where there’s no mental health care or services for women.
“The focus now is how can we make a bigger impact in communities that have nothing or women aren’t given the tools to feel empowered,” says Bayer. And with Lovato’s direct involvement with CAST Centers, he hopes the stigma surrounding mental health issues and addiction will be broken down.
“It brings [these issues] into pop culture,” says Bayer of the “Confident” singer’s impact. “Mental health needs to be perceived the same as physical health. You look at pop culture, and it’s often ‘How to look great in a bikini by summer.’ There’s a lot of focus on the outside instead of on the inside, so breaking the stigma is about it being cool and welcoming to work on yourself.”