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Celebvocate: Demi Lovato for youth mental health

One in an occasional series on the stars who bring their causes to Washington. Tuesday’s visitor: Demi Lovato

Lovato, right, accepts an award for advocacy from Kathleen Sebelius. (Richard Greenhouse)

Event: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event, hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Setting: University of the District of Columbia auditorium.

Bona fides: Former Disney Channel superstar; pop singer who has sold a million and a half albums in the U.S.

Backup: Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde and other mental health professionals; several young fans who showed up early after Lovato tweeted her appearance and were invited to sit on stage.

What she wants: To encourage teens to seek help for mental health problems. After her own highly-publicized struggle with bipolar disorder, drugs and alcohol, the 20-year-old was stunned by the confessional letters she received from fans. “There are a lot of young people out there who need to connect with someone, anyone.”

How she looked: Exquisite. Poufy-skirted cream dress with matching silky blazer. Towering nude pumps. Honey-colored hair. Hollywood glow.

Soundbite: “I’m a survivor of mental health and substance abuse issues, and I’m not ashamed.”

Observation: The glare of the spotlight may have made her trip to rehab at 18 uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt. “I don’t know if I would have had the ability to hold myself accountable during my recovery,” she told us. And while many other showbiz folks have come clean about their mental health issues, she felt she had a responsibility to speak to a younger generation: During her own battles, “I didn’t have anyone my age to look up to.”

Read more about recent celebvocates and even more about celebvocates from past years.

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Amy Argetsinger · May 7, 2013

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