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Faking Mental Illness

A little bit of admiration and respect are a good thing. But a new survey suggests that teens are trying to copy unhealthy characteristics of celebrities.

The stick-thin images we see in magazines and movies have been a problem among celebrities and the teens they inspire for some time. Teens and pre-teens often struggle with ways to be like their favorite celebrities. Eating disorders have increased in recent years and a lot of blame for that is placed on people’s obsession with celebrities.

Trying to be like celebrities can be a problem in other ways as well. Kids sometimes get caught up with drinking and drugs, because it seems like the rich and famous teens do it. Many celebrities have been in trouble for their drug addiction and alcoholism, and our young people see that.

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Online Poll Results

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Besides the eating disorders and the drug and alcohol abuse, a new survey suggests that teens are now also glamorizing the mental illness of celebrities. They say it is cool to have a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder, or to self-harm. The survey was conducted by on teens ages 12 to 17. According to the teens, mental illness is trendy and unique, and 1 out of 3 of them said they had lied about having a mental disorder to stand out among friends.

Dangers of Mental Illness

According to this poll, kids are actually faking being mentally ill. This is dangerous for many reasons. The whole glamorization of something as serious as mental illness will lead our teens down a dangerous path. If any of them would actually be taken to treatment where they could receive medication, it could be harmful.

One of the main concerns with faking mental illness is that it can become real very quickly. Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology suggests that people who fake symptoms of mental illness can actually start believing they have it. Teens who pretend they have depression or an eating disorder may eventually find that they have worked their mind into this disorder and can no longer get out of it on their own.

Getting Help

Teens often thrive on attention. They are trying to find where they fit in with classmates and peers, and often will do anything to stand out and be different. Pretending they have a mental illness to get attention certainly works because who wouldn’t want to reach out and help someone with a potentially dangerous problem? Teens need to learn about the real dangers of mental illness, and also the dangers of pretending they have one. Most of all, our young people need to work toward positive, healthy things in life. Studies show that a person can actually improve their health, their mood, and their mental state simply by focusing on positive things. “Thinking happy thoughts”, rather than trying to make ourselves sick, is a much better way to go.


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