Thalassitis is the second former Love Island contestant to die by suicide in the past year. Sophie Gradon died last June. The causes of suicide are always desperately complex and it is impossible to pinpoint one single cause.
It is relevant, now, though, to ask how vulnerable these young people felt after appearing on television – and how responsibly they were cared for before, during and after that experience.
Since former Love Island and Celebs Go Dating contestant, Mike Thalassitis, was found earlier this year, many people have been pondering ‘just how dangerous is reality TV fame?’. How powerfully can that experience affect our mental health? And are TV producers doing enough to protect their stars from deteriorating mental health?
And now, ahead of the series launch on June 3 2019, ITV has today published details on the show’s duty of care processes.
The production team have continued to evolve their processes with each series, as the show’s popularity has risen and the social and media attention on Islanders has increased. The key changes this year are – enhanced psychological support, more detailed conversations with potential Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show, bespoke training for all Islanders on social media and financial management and a proactive aftercare package which extends our support to all Islanders following their participation.
Creative Director ITV Studios Entertainment, Richard Cowles, said: “We’re very excited that Love Island is back for another series. It is the nation’s favourite dating show and we have a fabulous new cast of young singles all looking for love and ready for a summer of romance in the iconic Love Island villa.
“The format of the new series will be familiar to Love Island viewers and we can’t wait to see how the new Islanders take to life in the villa and how relationships blossom. We hope that viewers will be hooked as they watch these young singles fall in love – hopefully it will be a summer to remember for both the Islanders and our viewers.
“Due to the success of the show our Islanders can find themselves in the public eye following their appearance. We really want to make sure they have given real consideration to this and what appearing on TV entails. Discussing all of this with us forms a big part of the casting process and, ultimately, their decision to take part.
“Also, as we are outlining today our welfare processes follow three key stages: pre-filming, filming and aftercare and we are increasing our post filming support to help Islanders following their time in villa.”
Eight months ago, the Love Island team engaged eminent physician and a former Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Litchfield, who has extensive experience in the area of mental health, to independently review and work with the show to evolve and enhance their processes and oversee their duty of care.
Dr Litchfield CBE said today: “I have reviewed Love Island’s duty of care processes from end to end and they show a degree of diligence that demonstrates the seriousness with which this is taken by the production team.
“The processes and the support offered to Islanders have necessarily evolved as the show has developed and grown in popularity. The aim throughout has been to identify vulnerabilities at an early stage so that necessary adjustments can be made or potential Islanders can be advised that the show is not right for them. A high level of professional expertise has been engaged to provide comprehensive support not only while young people are actively engaged with the show but also for an extended period when they are adjusting to life thereafter. Professional input is a key element in safeguarding the wellbeing of Islanders but the genuine caring attitudes I have observed from those who make the show are as important.”
The duty of care process for series 5 includes:
Pre Filming and Filming
- Psychological consultant engaged throughout the whole series – from pre-filming to aftercare.
- Thorough pre-filming psychological and medical assessments including assessments by an independent doctor, psychological consultant and discussion with each Islander’s own GP to check medical history.
- Potential Islanders are required to fully disclose any relevant 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 finance and adjusting to life back home.
- A minimum of eight therapy sessions will be provided to each Islander when they return home.
- Proactive contact with islanders for a period of 14 months up until the end of the next series. This means contact with the Islander will last for 14 months after the series in which they have appeared has ended, with additional help provided where applicable.
- We encourage 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.
We’re glad to see ITV are taking their duty of care seriously and we can’t wait for the new season to start any day now!