Love Island's Dr Alex George: 'I asked ITV for therapy'

Image source, ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Love Island star Dr Alex George has responded to ITV's new aftercare guidelines, praising it as a positive move for contestants.

As part of the new plans ITV will now be providing at least eight therapy sessions to each Islander.

Therapy wasn't compulsory when Alex appeared on the 2018 series, but it's something he's welcoming.

He tells Radio 1 Newsbeat counselling has helped him deal with how his life has changed since being on the show.

Alex, who's 28, is now helping producers to look after contestants after their time on the show comes to an end.

And he says his own experiences have shaped that.

"I actually gave some of my thoughts and advice on what I would change - and some of those things have clearly been incorporated, which is great."

He says he had therapy after his time on the show.

"Not because the show was bad, but because it's a huge change in your life dealing with social media.

"Within 24 hours I had an appointment booked and I continued to be seen, so I've had really good aftercare."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Concern has been raised over the welfare of contestants following the deaths of former Islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis

The new duty of care rules are being introduced in a time where there are ongoing concerns for the welfare of reality TV stars.

Love Island has come under particular scrutiny following the deaths of former contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was cancelled last week after the death of a person who took part in the programme.

Love Island 2019: The latest "duty of care" measures

  • a psychological consultant will look after Islanders from pre-filming to after their time on the show
  • before filming - psychological and medical checks with various doctors including contestants' own GPs
  • detailed discussions with contestants around the potential impact the programme may have on their lives
  • at least eight therapy sessions for Islanders after they come home from the show
  • "proactive" contact with former contestants for 14 months after their season of Love Island finishes
  • bespoke training for Islanders on social media and financial management
  • ITV says it encourages contestants to get management to represent them
  • The senior team at the Love Island Villa have all been trained in Mental Health First Aid

"Love Island's massive and it's done very well - and the flipside of that is they have a duty of care to look after everyone. From my experience, these are people that really care," Alex says.

He told Newsbeat he thinks it's important that all contestants will now be required to have several sessions.

"My concern is you have certain people on the show who, even if they're really really struggling, won't ask for help."

Richard Cowles - the Creative Director of ITV Studios Entertainment - says: "Our Islanders can find themselves in the public eye following their appearance.

"We really want to make sure they have given real consideration to this and what appearing on TV entails."

The whole support process has been overseen by former Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Litchfield CBE.

Dr Alex, who's from Carmarthen in Wales, thinks most contestants won't realise how much their lives will change, saying he was "naive".

He says he needed "a bit of a reality check... like 'Well actually you're not going to get off the show and make millions of pounds, it's unlikely'."

Image caption,
Dr Alex says social media is "one of the biggest aspects in the mental health implications of reality TV"

Dr Alex has now returned to his previous job at a London hospital - and has a warning for future cast members: "If you're doing it for fame, I honestly would recommend highly not to do it - you're probably going to be really disappointed.

"You're no happier because you're going to be recognised walking down the street more than before.

"It's an amazing experience, I had the most amazing summer - but there's a big change.

"That's why it's important that the show looks after people."

The new series returns on 3 June.

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