Love Island and the concerns about psychological distress that won’t go away

It has been a series full of drama, dumpings and more than a few heads turning at Casa Amor. 그러나, after eight weeks, Love Island draws to a close on Monday.

The seventh season of ITV2’s reality TV staple has not appeared sanitised as many predicted, after producers introduced duty of care protocols after the death of previous islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, and host Caroline Flack, who all died by suicide within a period of 20 개월.

그러나, despite these new measures, experts have questioned whether a conversation needs to take place about the success of such shows when there is psychological distress on display. They argue the only way to prevent harm is to stop making programmes that thrive on conflict.

It comes as a former contestant of this season Sharon Gaffka told the Guardian that, despite the support she has received, she understands why previous contestants ended up taking their own lives. She expressed concern for her fellow islanders Faye Winter and Jake Cornish, who have received a lot of abuse from the public.

The protocols this year were in line with the show’s last series but also featured Dr Matthew Gould, a consultant chartered clinical psychologist, who joined ITV last year and who worked alongside health and safety expert Dr Paul Litchfield. The two medical professionals will continue to review the duty of care measures in place.

This year contestants received comprehensive psychological support, detailed conversations regarding the impact of participation on the show, and a proactive aftercare package that offers further help. They received training with social media, handling potential negativity, and financial management.

But Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in addiction and mental health at the University of York, said he was concerned because the show “thrives on manufacturing conflict”. 그는 덧붙였다: “Unfortunately it’s the contestants who bear the brunt of this.”

The current series received the most Ofcom complaints in the history of the reality show, with more than 30,000 viewers getting in touch. The majority of those complaints were related to the show’s Mad Movies challenge and the fallout, in which contestant Faye Winter yelled at and argued with her partner Teddy Soares after seeing a clip of him with another woman.

Gaffka said she was worried about Winter and Cornish as she has seen different sides to them, compared with what has been portrayed in the one-hour show. “When I see certain comments I’m like, ‘you don’t know Faye like I do’. I see tweets on Twitter saying, ‘I’ve never hated someone as much as I hate Faye.’”

“In the same way, I’m concerned about Jake because I don’t always agree with everything he’s done, but when I was in the villa, Jake was very much like a brother figure to me.”

Georgia Harrison, who was on series three of Love Island in 2017, said she felt supported after being on the show. “When Mike [Thalassitis, also a contestant on series three] passed away, and Caroline [Flack, a Love Island presenter], everyone also got a courtesy call to see if we needed support either around the situation or just in general, which I thought was really nice as well because it must have been like a really hard time for all of the production as well as the cast members.”

Harrison said those who sign up for Love Island need to understand that there will be certain times where you watch it back and do not like what you see.

Gaffka also said the support she has received from ITV since leaving has been amazing, and that islanders were “put through the wringer” with physical and mental health checks before being selected.

She said part of the screening involves being given scenarios and asked how they think they might react, 예를 들면, if nobody on the island likes them or if the public reacts badly to them.

“That’s one of the things you find really challenging because you have to think about yourself in that situation, without ever having been in that situation.”

But leaving the villa and adjusting to normal life was difficult. “I left the villa I had to be in quarantine, obviously in line with the guidelines. I live alone so when you live on your own and your phone is pretty much glued to your body.” After quarantine, her life became busier and she now does not have much chance to read about the things people are saying about her, good or bad.

Hamilton said that no matter how much preparation is provided. “Nothing can truly prepare them [contestants] for what happens when they leave.”

A spokesperson for ITV said: “The main focus of Love Island is about finding love, and we always seek out single people with this objective when casting the show. While the series does inevitably aim to test the relationships formed, throughout seven series viewers have gone on to see islanders enjoying long-term relationships, with some ultimately marrying and having children.”

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