Love Island’s Niall Aslam On Why Pre – And During – Show Care Is Just As Vital As Aftercare

Niall Aslam reflects on being flown to a psychiatric ward following his time on Love Island in 2018 – and explains why looking after contestants before, and during, the show is so important.

Niall Aslam

by Niall Aslam |
Updated on

Love Island season is upon us and while people are tagging their friends in their favourite memes and favourite outfits from the series, I’m currently reliving the memories of being flown from the villa after 9 days to a psychiatric ward. I’m Niall Aslam{ =nofollow}, and if you watched my series of Love Island, you might remember me as the Harry Potter geek that liked to make people laugh. But I quickly donned an invisibility cloak, leaving the show under mysterious circumstances - which at the time were stated as personal reasons.

The truth was I was being flown to the Nightingale Hospital in London because I was suffering with stress induced psychosis. I spent two weeks there on the psychiatric ward, where I was placed on lots of medication to try to help me recover, followed by months of care from the crisis team at home.

Instead of brushing it aside and trying to erase the memory of my traumatic time, I think my experience can teach people how vital it is that producers look after contestants before, and during, their time on shows like Love Island. I’m sure if you are an avid fan of the show you will have heard the heated debates around the aftercare of islanders, and whether or not they are supported adequately, but speaking from my own experience, I believe this is not the main issue at hand. Personally, I think it’s the pre and during care for contestants that needs the most work and improvement.


To understand my story, you need to understand a little bit about me. At 7 years old, I was diagnosed with autism. From school to socialising, this has caused some problems in my life. Things haven’t been easy for me - however, over time, I’ve learnt to mask and deal with some of my difficulties. But that doesn’t mean they are not there and shouldn’t be supported.

Aftercare on shows like Love Island is also clearly vital. But as someone that’s been through the show - albeit under very extreme circumstances - I believe it is very much a case of you only know how hot the water is when you’ve jumped in. Once you are in, you can’t get out - and no amounts of half an hour chats with a therapist can change that.

To improve the pre and during care, I believe the transparency of the show must improve. By being more transparent around the production elements of the show, it will allow for contestants to mentally prepare themselves prior to stepping onto the villa and know what they were getting themselves into - instead of being blindsided by it all like me.

As someone with autism I am a literal thinker, so these produced elements really took me off guard and caused me a lot of stress. People might say I’m naive for thinking that, but I am a very literal thinker - and the show was aware of this as they knew I had autism. As a result, I don’t believe I received adequate care during the show. During my time in the villa, I asked for plain food, timeouts, and to be able to listen to music to calm me down. But all of these requests were ignored, apart from when I was able to listen to a song on someone’s phone.

Eventually, as I’ve mentioned, everything piled up for me - and I was sent to psychiatric care. My story is not a pretty headline, and that’s why people don’t tend to hear about it. Yet if we take my story for what it is, it’s a case study of the changes that need to be made in regards to pre and during care. Contestants can’t mentally prepare themselves for something that they don’t know they’re walking into and the stress of it can be very intense - regardless of whether or not you have a non-physical disability like autism.

During filming, adjustments and needs should be listened to properly and people shouldn’t be looked at as pieces of emotional chess for people’s entertainment, especially if it’s at the expense of someone’s mental health. And I believe more considerate changes will allow islanders to be able to prepare for what they’re getting themselves in for.

To go forward, sometimes you need to go backwards. I hope the show learns from my story and looks at ways to protect the contestants, which isn’t just reminding people to be kind after putting people in emotionally challenging situations for entertainment. Or reportedly putting clauses inthe contract which warns islanders that you might not become famous or be fancied in the villa. In my opinion, the new duty of care is to protect ITV more than the islanders themselves. And it’s the islanders which are the ones that really need protecting.

READ MORE: Love Island's Chloe Burrows Is Being Torn Apart Online, Days After Producers Asked Viewers To Think Before Posting

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