Duty of care principles have been confirmed for ITV's Love Island to help better support the mental wellbeing of contestants.
The reality TV show, set to return for its seventh series in July, has been criticised in recent years over issues related to the mental health of participants, raising calls for better support for those that appear on the show.
Many former contestants have experienced trolling and online bullying, with Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis both taking their own lives after taking part in the programme.
Former presenter, Caroline Flack, died by suicide in February 2020.
The show's duty of care protocols aim to provide 'comprehensive psychological support' for contestants before, during and after the show, and include better professional support and expectation management.
Extensive training on topics such as handling social media negativity and financial management will be given to all contestants, as well as discussions on the potential impact taking part in the show could have on their lives.
Before appearing on the show, all contestants will be psychologically evaluated and will need to declare any history of mental health issues, while mental health professionals will also be available at all times during filming.
An extensive aftercare programme has also been announced, including the offer of at least 8 therapy sessions for each contestant and proactive contact for a period of 14 months after the series.
A dedicated welfare team will also provide support to participants during and after filming of the series
The protocols will be continually reviewed by former chair of the UK's What Works Centre for Wellbeing, Dr Paul Litchfield, and consultant clinical consultant, Dr Matthew Gould, both of whom were involved in their creation.
“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," said Litchfield. "Reducing the risk of harm, where possible, is an imperative but promoting good mental health is also necessary."
Litchfield initially worked with ITV in 2018 to develop new duty of care protocols in line with a review of Love Island's participant welfare processes, which were published in May 2019.
Guidelines were then extended to cover all ITV programmes from October 2019.
"ITV’s evolving commitment to these issues, backed up by tangible action, is an example to others in the industry and beyond," added Litchfield.
ITV also has several ongoing campaigns focused on mental health, including its Britain Get Talking project to encourage 10 million people to take action to support their mental or physical health by 2023, and its recently announced partnership with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) which aims to help 1 million young people improve their mental wellbeing.
To read more about the Love Island duty of care protocols, click here.
Written by Marco Ricci Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health