Pretending to have a mental illness is cool

Felipe Wasserstein

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Mental illness in teenagers.
Credits to: Ryan Melaugh

Pretending to have a mental illness is becoming a new trend among teenagers. That`s according to a pool conducted by metaline.com, an online therapy service. They think  having some type of mental illness disorder will make them popular among their peers. Another reason is to emulate the behavior of their favorite celebrities.

According to the Dailymail they are influenced by names such as Britney Spears or Kerry Katona. Both are personalities that openly speak about their disorders. “Inspired” by their examples, teenagers create phantom illnesses like bipolar, eating and addictive disorders.

Metalined interviewed about 1192 British students aged 12 to 17. About half of those students believed that having a mental illness makes a person unique. About 16% thought that celebrities have made psychological issues fashionable. Treatmentsolutions added that one out of tree admitted having lied about their mental condition in order to be part of a group.   One in ten described mental illness as something stylish.

According to the mirror, the major fake issues included: eating disorders (22%), self harming (17%), addiction (13%), depression (12%) and bipolar disorder (9%). All frequent disorders among celebrities.

Eating disorders  reflect a growing desire to have a body that is as similar as possible to a specific celebrity. The consume of alcohol and drugs by teenagers reflect another common habit in the life of celebrities: addiction to chemical substances.

Naturally, such dangerous habits can lead to self harm.  It is an obsessive and dangerous behavior that reflects a common topic in the everyday life of a teenager: the search for an identity. A search that leads them to idealize certain types of mental illness.

According to the Dailymail, a government commissioned review on mental health problems disclosed more alarming data: one in ten children has a clinically recognizable disorder like anorexia or depression. Its twice more children than during the 1970s.

Advances in treatment and acceptance:

We live in an era where psychiatric and psychological treatments are not  a taboo anymore. Advancements in the treatment of mental health lead to an increase in the number o people who are not only looking for help, but are also ready to talk about their fears and anxieties with a professional who wont judge them.

It is also an opportunity for individuals seeking help to learn that they can have a normal and healthy life suited to who they are.

It is true that teenagers are constantly looking for attention, and that`s  alright. Its a part of being young and trying to discover your place in society. But it also necessary that teenagers who are faking an illness are able to understand the seriousness of the situation. They are harming both themselves and those who really need professional help.

The media plays a huge part in it too. Talking about mental health like it is a reality show for others to be entertained is not much different than a kid faking an illness to call attention. Or better ratings in this case.

Such attitudes certainly wont lead to improvements on the subject of mental health.

 

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Felipe Wasserstein