Former Disney star sparks tough topic for teens - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Former Disney star sparks tough topic for teens


A former Disney Channel star broke her silence this week about her struggles with mental illness in an interview with People magazine.

Most parents have at least heard of 18-year-old Demi Lovato.   Her career started on "Barney and Friends."  Most recently, Lovato made headlines when she punched a backup dancer on a 2010 tour with the Jonas Brothers.

The teen star's candidness about her very serious struggles hit home with local students and educators.

Angela Amunson is a high school guidance counselor in Cedar Rapids.  She tries to keep up with pop culture, because she knows most students do too.

"I think it took great courage. I don't know that she did it willingly.  Her parents and her staff members had an intervention and told her she needed to get some help." said Amunson.

While some parents might be shocked to hear the former face of the Disney channel suffered behind the scenes with self mutilation, anorexia and bulimia, her courage to come forward puts a face on what are commonly private struggles.

"It's not just your at-risk teen. It can be your super star that looks like everything is picture perfect. Sometimes the more pressure students put on themselves and adults, the more they need some help."  said Amunson.

15-year-old Taylor Hoskins respected Demi Lovato long before her mental health struggles became public.

"She's a really good singer. I don't mind listening to their soundtrack. She was a good girl. She seemed like she had everything straightened out." said Hoskins.

Hoskins says students need to know there are resources for those who are struggling.  The Cedar Rapids teen said sometimes it takes a peer to intervene.

"There's everything that can cause it. It could be family issues or friends.  They just need to talk to the people who might be the cause and also get some help."

At Prairie High School, Angela Amunson takes pride in the fact that help is literally right down the hall.

"We don't have all of the medical training, but we have a lot of the connections for the students. " said Amunson.

Here are some resources for teens and parents:

Children & Families of Iowa | Teen Programs


Teen Mental Health: Stress, Fears and Phobias » TV Programs on ...

44 Iowa Teen Drug Rehabs - IA Adolescent Help

Iowa Rehabilitative Treatment Services (RTS) Home Page

Iowa Emergency Crisis Hotlines and Helplines ~

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