Demi Lovato on Seeking Help for Mental Health amid Coronavirus Pandemic: 'It's a Sign of Strength'

"The strongest thing someone can do is take that first step in getting help, whatever shape or form that is," Lovato tells PEOPLE exclusively

demi Lovato
Demi Lovato. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Demi Lovato is there for fans who may be struggling mentally and emotionally amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the singer, 27, announced on Instagram she was helping launch The Mental Health Fund — which has raised more than $2 million thus far — to support four organizations dedicated to crisis counseling via text message.

“It’s so important that people have these lines because sometimes you feel really alone and you don’t know where to turn or who to talk to,” Lovato tells PEOPLE exclusively. “You’re afraid that these thoughts you’re having are too dark, and you need guidance. That’s where this comes in. It can provide help to people who are struggling.”

Never one to shy away from discussing her own struggles with mental illness, the entertainer is urging those battling anxiety, depression, substance abuse or other mental health challenges to reach out.

“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. Oftentimes our society tells us that if we ask for help, we are weak,” she says. “But the strongest thing someone can do is take that first step in getting help, whatever shape or form that is.”

Over the last several weeks of social distancing, Lovato — who’s been leaning on her friends, family and a “really good treatment team” — says some of her favorite forms of self-care have involved staying active.

RELATED VIDEO: Demi Lovato Belts Powerful Rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIV

“I’ve been exercising and going on walks. I like walking my dogs. I was doing yoga in the beginning but kind of fell off,” she says with a laugh. “[I’ll] start that back up again. Meditating … anything that helps you focus and get centered is really good for you.”

And like many others, the Grammy nominee has been slowing down in everyday life — and even embraced a new art form.

“Every time I go on my dog walks, I take pictures of stuff in nature. I was just talking to a friend yesterday who’s a photographer and I was like, ‘I think I’m starting to really like photography!'” says Lovato, who’s been social distancing with new boyfriend Max Ehrich. “That might be a new hobby for me.”

While Lovato has given fans a taste of new music with her ballad “Anyone” and new single “I Love Me,” the entertainer — whose last album Tell Me You Love Me was released in 2017 — says the best is still to come.

“I’m constantly listening to music right now and through that just getting ideas for concepts for songs,” she says. “My next cycle of music, I just am really excited to be able to speak my truth. I haven’t put out new music in a long time, so I have a lot to say.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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