Love Island cast to get improved mental health and race training

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Contestants on ITV’s hit reality show Love Island will be given training on how to avoid micro-aggressions as well as the use of appropriate language around race, after generating controversy and complaints.

The show has been criticised for its lack of diversity, for contestants using racial slurs and disregarding black female contestants as romantic choices, as well as emotional abuse towards female participants.

The eighth series of Love Island will look to further improve mental health support to help contestants cope with their newfound fame, after the suicides of former contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, and host Caroline Flack sparked concerns about the robustness of its aftercare.

Islanders will watch a video with interviews of former participants sharing their experiences on the show, including how to cope with being filmed 24/7 and dealing with social media trolling after leaving the villa.

“The world we live in is changing every day, and we want all of our islanders to feel they are part of an inclusive environment in the villa. As part of our duty of care process, it is also important we play our part in educating our participants to understand and empathise with different perspectives and lived experiences,” said Ade Rawcliffe, director of diversity and inclusion at ITV.

The inclusion training will tackle topics including inclusive language, behaviour, creating safe spaces and being a good ally. Conversations will be chaired by the BCOMS (Black Collective of Media in Sport) founder Leon Mann MBE and include diversity consultant Hayley Bennett, disability specialist Shani Dhanda and broadcaster Sean Fletcher.

ITV first rolled out improved duty of care procedures in 2019 after the mental health minister called on ITV and the show’s production company to ensure it was supporting participants after they left the programme.

Psychological support includes regular meetings with a mental health professional before, during and after the show; social media training and therapy sessions, encouragement to seek advice on future TV, advertising and other public appearances after the show, and how to look after their finances. The show now screens contestants for vulnerabilities and requires them to disclose any medical history that may make it more difficult for them to cope with being on the show.

Dr Paul Litchfield, who developed the procedures, said: “Being thrust into the glare of intense public scrutiny can be daunting and providing effective support to people living through that experience is critical.”

Love Island has become a cultural phenomenon and a commercial success for ITV in recent years thanks to its draw for younger viewers, who are harder for traditional TV channels to reach.

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