Sept. 4, 2021 – As mental health awareness improves, there comes a troubling trend of young people diagnosing themselves with a mental illness, which can be a mood, personality, or anxiety disorder, but can also range to disabilities like autism or Tourette’s. And while some may relish finally being able to relate to feelings that they’re having, others might be creating new problems in their own minds. 

This is mental illness and disability appropriation: the perfect marriage between the rise in mental health awareness in the midst of an 18-month–long pandemic and the unabating teenage desire to be different and unique. Generation Z faced school closures, fragmented social structures, and increased levels of depression and anxiety, which all came along with a period of isolation that kept them glued to their phones.

 A recent survey by Mental Health America found that 54% of kids between the ages of 11 and 17 reported frequent suicidal thoughts or self-harm in the previous two weeks—the highest rate since it began screening in 2014.  Mental illness had the perfect breeding ground in which to propagate. As a result, people went online to vent, and mental health–related content on places like TikTok took off—providing a sense of community and belonging to people suffering from these afflictions.


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