Love Island: Matt Hancock says reality shows must support mental health

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Health secretary says he was moved by death of Mike Thalassitis

Matt Hancock has said reality TV shows have a duty of care for contestants after they become famous, after the death of the former Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis.

The 26-year-old became famous after appearing on the ITV reality dating show. Thalassitis was found dead in a north London park on Saturday morning and his death is not being treated as suspicious.

At the Spectator health summit in central London on Monday, the health secretary said he was moved by the news of Thalassitis’s death. Hancock said: “I am very worried about the support for the mental health of contestants on reality TV shows. The sudden exposure to massive fame, I suppose, can have significant impacts on people and I think that it is a duty on any organisation that is putting people in the position of making them famous overnight, that they should also look after them afterwards.

“I think that people need to take responsibility for their duties to people’s wellbeing very seriously.”

Thalassitis, who was of Cypriot descent, appeared on the 2017 series of Love Island. Jonny Mitchell, who also starred in the 2017 series, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday that many people struggled to return to normal life after appearing on the programme. “If you come off one of the biggest shows on TV, you can’t go back to working in Tesco – it would be almost impossible. So it creates a lot of stress and a lot of strain on people,” he said.

“I know a lot of people who have come off the show who have suffered with depression.

“To come off a show that’s that big, to be tossed out into the world with no help, no guidance, no anything, it’s a massive shock and then you start thinking: ‘Well, I’m famous, but what do I do next? How do I move forward? How do I feed this lifestyle? How am I going to do anything that’s going to keep me going?’”

In June last year, Sophie Gradon, who appeared on the show in 2016, was found dead at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland, aged 32. An inquest into her death, which was to be held on Thursday, has been postponed to allow her family to consider new information.

A statement from Love Island, read out on 5 Live, said: “Care for our islanders is a process the show takes very seriously and is a continuous process for all those taking part in the show. We ensure that all of our contributors are able to access psychological support before, during and after appearing on the show.

“The programme will always provide ongoing support when needed and where appropriate. We also discuss at length with all of our islanders before and after the show how their lives might change, and they have access to support and advice to help with this.”

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This post was syndicated from Health | The Guardian. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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