Trigger warning: suicide
The mental well-being of Love Island contestants has increasingly taken center stage in the reality dating show as more and more Islanders have been subjected to trolling and criticism during and after the show has aired.
Questions about whether the show bosses were doing enough to prepare and protect their stars for reality TV fame came under fire after former Love Island and Celebs Go Dating contestant Mike Thalassitis took his own life in 2019.
Thalassitis is the second former Love Island contestant to die by suicide after appearing on the show. Sophie Gradon died in June 2018 and Caroline Flack, who hosted the show, took her own life in 2020. While suicide is tragically complex and it’s usualoy impossible to pinpoint one single cause, these deaths have raised important questions about how vulnerable the young stars who appear on Love Island are and how much support they are offered before, during, and after the experience.
And now, ahead of the Love Island Winter 2023 season, ITV has published details on the show’s duty-of-care processes with detailed welfare plans in place to support participants before, during, and after filming.
The biggest shake-up is that contestants will be asked to pause social media activity for the duration of their time on the show. Their accounts “will remain dormant while they are in the villa, so that nothing is published on their behalf.” Show bosses believe this new protocol will help “protect both the Islanders and their families from the adverse effects of social media.”
Islanders will also receive enhanced training around behavior in relationships, something that seems to have come to light after last year's series saw many of the male contestants criticized by viewers for displaying controlling behavior. In the statement, ITV says, “Ahead of entering the Villa, Islanders will also receive guidance and training around mutually respective behavior in relationships. Participants will be offered resource links to read up on, in advance of meeting their fellow Islanders, to help them identify negative behaviors in relationships and understand the behavior patterns associated with controlling and coercive behavior.”
Stars will also be offered video training and guidance covering inclusive language around disability, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and microaggressions, tackling topics including inclusive language and behavior, creating safe spaces, and being a good ally.
Prior to appearing on the show, prospective Islanders will also watch a video fronted by the show’s executive producer and head of welfare, interviewing former Islanders about their experiences on the show. This includes details on the two-week period before they enter the Villa, how to cope being filmed 24/7, the interaction they will have with producers in the Villa, the support provided to family members, dealing with social media trolling, and adapting to life away from the show.
The full duty-of-care process is outlined below:
Pre Filming and Filming
- Registered mental health professional engaged throughout the whole series—from prefilming to aftercare.
- Thorough prefilming psychological and medical assessments including assessments by an independent doctor and a psychological consultant as well as reports from each Islander’s own GP to check medical history.
- Potential Islanders are required to fully disclose in confidence any medical history that would be relevant to their inclusion in the Villa and the production’s ability to provide a suitable environment for them.
- Managing cast expectations: detailed explanations both verbally and in writing of the implications, both positive and negative, of taking part in the series are given to potential cast members throughout the casting process and reinforced within the contract so it is clear.
- Cast are told they should consider all the potential implications of taking part in the show and work through this decision-making process in consultation with their family and those closest to them, to ensure they feel it is right for them.
- Senior team on the ground have received training in mental health first aid.
- A welfare team solely dedicated to the Islanders both during the show and after.
- Bespoke training on dealing with social media and advice on finances and adjusting to life back home.
- A minimum of eight therapy sessions will be offered to each Islander when they return home.
- Proactive contact with Islanders for a period of 14 months after the series in which they have appeared has ended, with additional help provided where applicable.
- Encouragement for Islanders to secure management to represent them after the show and manage them should they choose to take part in other TV shows, advertising campaigns, or other public appearance opportunities.
This post was originally published on Glamour UK. If you’ve been affected by anything in this article, call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor for 24-hour, confidential support.
Originally Appeared on Glamour