Content Warning: This article contains mention of suicide. Please proceed carefully.
As we eagerly wait for winter “Love Island” 2023, launching this month, ITV has released new duty of care measures for this year’s contestants. Ahead of the launch of series nine, the first presented by Maya Jama, ITV has announced that this year’s bunch of Islanders will “pause social media activity for [the] duration of series” and will “receive enhanced training around behaviour in relationships”.
Criticism surrounding the show’s responsibilities towards the wellbeing of the Islanders has been spotlighted for years, following the tragic deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, and “Love Island” host Caroline Flack, who all took their own lives in consecutive years. While suicide is complicated and nuanced, questions have been raised about whether ITV have been doing enough to prepare and support the vulnerable contestants before, during, and after filming.
For 2023, ITV will introduce more measures than ever before to protect those taking part in the show and their families. Dr Paul Litchfield, a mental health specialist helping to review ITV’s measures, says in the statement, “The Duty of Care arrangements for Love Island continue to evolve in the light of advances in scientific knowledge and awareness of the pressures young people face in establishing healthy relationships. That culture of continuous improvement ensures that Islanders are well placed to benefit from their experience of participating in one of the UK’s most popular TV shows.”
The most dramatic step is participants pausing all social media accounts. Previously, friends and family have run their platforms while the Islanders are on the show, but in a bid to “protect both the Islanders and their families from the adverse effects of social media”, the accounts will remain dormant and nothing will be published while they appear on the series. Following the ableist abuse Tasha Ghouri received on social media, and the death threats endured by Luca Bish’s family, this can only be a positive step. Remaining silent may help to dissuade online trolls.
In addition, Islanders will receive training in advance of appearing on the show to help them “identify negative behaviours in relationships and understand the behaviour patterns associated with controlling and coercive behaviour.” This will include guidance covering inclusive language around disability, sexuality, race, and microaggressions from a panel of experts. The show’s Executive Producer and Head of Welfare will also interview former Islanders about their experiences in the show and how they coped for a video to be shown before entering the villa.
Independent psychological and medical assessments will be undertaken with registered mental health professionals on hand throughout the series. “A minimum of eight therapy sessions will be offered to each Islander when they return home,” the statement adds. And ITV has outlined there will be “proactive” contact for a period of 14 months after they leave the show.
While we tune into “Love Island” nightly for our daily dose of bombshells, re-couplings, and firepit chats, the Islanders aren’t just there for our entertainment, they are real people. Hopefully, this new thorough duty of care process will only help to protect and support this year’s cohorts so that everyone can leave the show feeling positive.