Love Island confirms duty of care protocols to protect islanders' mental health

Love Island has confirmed its duty of care protocols for its upcoming series, including training on the impacts of social media and ‘comprehensive psychological support’.

The ITV2 dating show is returning for its seventh series later this month, after a year away due to the pandemic. 

In the past few years, concerns have been raised over the mental wellbeing of the islanders, who are frequently subject to trolling and criticism after leaving the island.

There were calls for increased support for the cast after two former islanders – Sophie Gradon from series two and Mike Thalassitis from series three – took their own lives years after competing on Love Island.

Then, in February 2020, host Caroline Flack died by suicide aged 40.

ITV has now confirmed that they will offer ‘comprehensive psychological support, training for all Islanders on the impacts of social media and handling potential negativity, training for all Islanders on financial management, detailed conversations with Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show, aproactive aftercare package which extends support to all islanders following their participation on the show, and guidance and advice on taking on management after the show’.

Registered mental health professionals will be on hand for islanders from pre-filiming, throughout the show and to aftercare, and prior to filming, islanders will be subject to psychological and medical assessments including assessments by an independent doctor, psychological consultant and reports from each islander’s own GP to check medical history.

Potential Islanders are required to fully disclose 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.

ITV said that detailed explanations 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’, and cast are told to discuss these implications with their family and close friends.

A welfare team will be dedicated to the islanders both during the show and after, while senior team on the ground in Majorca have received training in mental health first aid.

After the show, islanders will be offered a minimum of eight therapy sessions when they return home, and ITV will remain in ‘proactive contact’ with islanders for 14 months after the series, ‘with additional help provided where applicable’.

Islanders will also be offered training on dealing with social media, finances, djusting to life back home and securing management. 

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Dr Paul Litchfield, who was appointed by ITV in 2018 to review Love Island’s partricpant welfare processes, said: ‘Society’s appreciation of the importance of mental health and wellbeing has grown enormously in recent years and the pandemic has brought that into even sharper focus. 

‘Reducing the risk of harm, where possible, is an imperative but promoting good mental health is also necessary.  ITV’s evolving commitment to these issues, backed up by tangible action,  is an example to others in the industry and beyond.’

Dr Matthew Gould, who works alongside Dr Litchfiled as a consultant chartered clinical psychologist, said: ‘Duty of care is not a static goal. It evolves with public expectation, legislation, and with the commercial development of the programme format in order to maintain creativity. Effective delivery of care is an exercise in collaboration especially between health professionals, programme participants and producers. Also, it can be especially influenced by senior leaders within an organisation. My appointment last year in a new role to broaden the duty of care effort is testament to the seriousness which ITV gives this subject.’

This summer’s batch of islanders are already believed to be isolating in Spain ahead of the series starting at the end of June.

Laura Whitmore is returning to host after joining the show for its 2020 winter series, while her husband Iain Stirling will narrate. 

Love Island will return to ITV2 on June 28. 

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