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Teens Are Faking Mental Illness Thinking It Is Cool

Jen Slack's picture
Mental illness and teens

I personally think that the line between when a stigma becomes accepted, to when it becomes the "thing to do", or 'cool' seem to be a fine one.


Particularly prone to embracing the former stigma as 'cool' seem to be younger members of society - our youth.

Let's talk about mental illness, for example. There's been a lot of talk about mental illness as well as a movement to remove any stigma surrounding it. In fact, one movement that comes to mind is, in fact, called "Let's Talk" by Bell Canada, which serves to end stigma and raise money for better access to mental health.

The most recent headline pertaining to the subject is about a young woman who sent an email to coworkers stating that she needed a mental health day. Read the story here.

In short, the woman was commended for simply speaking up about needing a mental health break from work.

After all, why should someone with a problem with his or her brain be different or stigmatized when someone with a physical problem like the flu or cystic fibrosis is not?

By all accounts, it seems the efforts to accept mental health problems as normal have been successful and the shift is well underway. The shift, possibly more so is happening among the outpoken younger members of society who seem to be actually embracing their mental illnesses.

I've seen more than one Facebook post from a Millenial who clearly wants to break barriers and talk openly about their mental health problems and let others aware that they suffer with these issues.

Celebrity Endorsements?

Perhaps the shift is also partially due to many of today's pop culture icons, like Kerry Katona, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Kendall Jenner who are openly talking about their mental illnesses and 'paving the way'.

Teens have always emulated celebrities and copied their fashion, hairstyles, music styles, gestures, etc. That's nothing new.

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Most likely, it's also not new that pop culture icons in the past have suffered mental illnesses. What is new, is all the talk about them - the 'owning' of the disorder.

In any case, we do seem to see an increase in mental disorders. Are the kids emulating the pop culture icons? Certainly seems to be the case.

I know it sounds odd, and it is odd, but strangely, here's the proof.

The Survey Says

An online therapy service, Mentaline.com did a survey and learned that a whopping 34 percent of teens admitted that they faked mental illnesses, such as depression, self-harming and bipolar disorder.

The top five faked illnesses were eating disorders, self harm, additction, depression and bipolar.

Mentaline.com's website founder Jesper Buch said this about the results of the survey, "It's shocking that so many young people think mental health problems are fashionable." "It's a very sensitive topic, so to see that many teenagers are blase about the whole thing isn't good at all". "Many young people are too quick to say "I'm depressed" or try to gain attention by pretending to have some kind of personal issue. Your teenage years should be spent enjoying life, not convincing people that you have issues that should be taken extremely seriously".

So why are the teens faking mental illness?

Half claimed it was 'fashionable," and believed it made people 'unique'. About a quarter said it was 'cool' but the majority did admit that it actually 'should be taken very seriously.'

Indeed, it is a problem. For one, a teen faking a mental illness can be put on medication for the problem. Ironically, some of these medications actually have side effects of 'suicidal thoughts'!

Even more terrifying, a person who is faking a mental disorder can eventually find that have actually developed the disorder by basically convincing his or her own mind. The person can then lose control and find themselves unable to longer get out of it without help.

What do you think?



There's been a lot of talk about mental illness as well as a movement to remove any stigma surrounding it. What I see is a concerted movement to maintain there is a stigma surrounding it.
If the stigma is gone there are people who think it is cool.