Home Mental Health & Well-Being Faking Mental Illnesses for Attention Can Exacerbate Existing Stigmas

Faking Mental Illnesses for Attention Can Exacerbate Existing Stigmas

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Attention-seeking behaviour refers to actions or behaviours individuals engage in to gain the attention, validation, or sympathy of others. This can manifest in various ways, and sometimes individuals resort to falsely claiming to have a mental illness as a means to fulfill their need for attention.

Sometimes, people who want others to notice them might tell big, made-up stories or make their experiences sound more exciting than they really are. They might make up things about their feelings and struggles with their mind, and the things they’ve been through, just to get more people interested in what they’re saying. When they receive attention or sympathy as a result, they might feel validated and encouraged to continue the behaviour. Positive responses from others can reinforce their belief that faking a mental illness is an effective way to gain the attention they desire.

Some people that experience boredom or satisfaction with their daily routine, falsely claiming a mental illness can introduce an element of excitement and unpredictability into their lives. Attention-seeking behaviour can provide a temporary break from the monotony and routine they might be experiencing.

When someone is doing things to get attention, it’s not always simple. It’s good to be kind and try to understand them. They might be doing this because they need something emotional that they’re not getting. Being there for them and connecting with them can help with these feelings.

We should also be careful not to mix up people who really need help with those who just want attention. It’s not good to ignore someone’s feelings without thinking about it. That can make things worse instead of better.

Avoiding responsibilities

Some people pretend to have a mental illness so they don’t have to do things they don’t want to do. They use the idea of being mentally unwell as an excuse to avoid tasks, responsibilities, or things they don’t like or find difficult.

Faking a mental illness might provide individuals with temporary relief from the pressures of their responsibilities. They might believe that claiming a mental health issue allows them to take a break or receive understanding from others, offering them a respite from their obligations.also can be used as a strategy to avoid accountability in cases where they’ve made mistakes or neglected their duties. Presenting themselves as mentally unwell can act as a temporary shield from repercussions.

When people make it seem like they’re really struggling mentally, they might hope that others will be nicer and more forgiving when they don’t do well at something. This can happen in places like school, work, or with friends or family. They think that if they act like they’re having a hard time, people will feel sorry for them and be more patient with their mistakes or problems.

Wanting to avoid responsibilities can also come from different reasons like being scared of failing, feeling not so good about oneself, wanting things to be easy, or not feeling motivated. Pretending to be mentally ill is a way to explain why they’re avoiding things, and they might think that doing this will make people feel bad for them and help them out.

Personal Gain

Sometimes, people might pretend to be mentally ill to get things for themselves. They might want special treatment, attention, or help that they wouldn’t get if they were honest. They might believe that acting like they have a mental illness will make people feel sorry for them and give them what they want.

One reason for this could be that they want others to notice and care about them. They might think that if they act like they’re struggling mentally, people will pay more attention to them and offer help. This attention could make them feel important and liked.

Another reason could be that they want to avoid doing things that are hard or not fun. By pretending to have a mental illness, they might hope to get out of tasks or responsibilities they don’t want to do. They think others will be more understanding and won’t make them do those things.

But even though this might seem like a good idea at first, it can cause problems in the long run. People might stop trusting them, and they could hurt their relationships with others. It’s better to be honest and find real ways to deal with challenges.


Manipulation is when someone tries to control or influence others in sneaky or unfair ways. It’s like trying to make people do what you want by using tricks or lies. People who manipulate might pretend to be your friend, but they’re really trying to get something from you.

One way manipulation can happen is by playing with your emotions. Someone might make you feel guilty or sad on purpose so that you’ll do what they ask. For example, they might say things like, “If you really cared about me, you would do this for me.” This makes you feel like you have to do what they want, even if it’s not right or fair.

Another way is by giving you compliments or being extra nice, but only when they want something. They might act really friendly and say nice things to make you like them and trust them. Then, when they need help or want you to do something, you might feel like you owe them because they were so nice before.

Sometimes, people who manipulate will twist the truth or make up stories to get sympathy. They might lie about being in a tough situation or having a hard time just to make you feel sorry for them. This can make you want to help them, even if they’re not being honest.

In the end, manipulation is not a good way to treat others. It can hurt your relationships and make people not trust you. It’s better to be honest and ask for things in a fair and respectful way. And if someone is trying to manipulate you, it’s okay to stand up for yourself and say no.

Stigmatisation of mental health

Stigmatising mental health means treating people with mental health problems unfairly because of misunderstandings and wrong ideas. This can make it hard for folks to ask for help and can lead to less understanding about mental health. One way this happens is when some people pretend to have a mental illness when they don’t really. This can make others believe wrong things about mental health and make it even harder for people who need help.

When people fake mental illnesses, it can make it tough for those who are really struggling. Others might not believe them or think they’re just pretending. This can make it lonely for people who need care and support.

Faking mental illnesses can also make real mental health problems look less serious. It can make others think these problems aren’t as important as physical health problems.

Stigmatising mental health can also stop people from talking about their feelings. When they’re worried others might judge them, they might not want to say what they’re going through. This means they might not ask for help when they need it.

To stop this, we need to be kind and learn about mental health. We can share real information to help people understand better. By being understanding and talking openly about mental health, we can make it easier for everyone to get the help and support they need.

Soufiane N. is a passionate writer and mental health advocate. Soufiane is the founder of The Mindful Messenger.

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