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Do Reality TV Shows Like Love Island Do Enough To Protect Former Contestants?

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Tributes poured out earlier this week for former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon, who was found dead at her house on Wednesday night.

‘The whole ITV2 and Love Island team are profoundly saddened to hear the news about Sophie,’ tweeted @LoveIsland. ‘And our deepest sympathies and thoughts go to her family and friends.’ They also included a tribute to Sophie at the beginning of Thursday night’s show.

Now Sophie’s friend Malin Andersson, who appeared alongside her in the show, has been talking to Newsbeat, saying she thinks there should be help and support available for contestants after they leave the show.

‘There just needs to be more done about it and a lot more aftercare provided by certain reality TV shows. [Sophie] did talk to me a lot about personal situations quite close to when the show had finished. It was a shock for both of us when we came out of the villa, and I completely understood where she was coming from because I felt the same.’

For us, the Love Island journey ends when the show is over, but the contestants have to adapt to a whole new life where people they come into contact with people who know intimate details about them, and have been watching them on screen every day for over a month.

‘It's like you're constantly reaching for some kind of high’ Malin said. ‘And when work dies down and things go quiet you're constantly trying to chase it - and that's where depression can kick in. A lot of fellow friends that have been on shows have said the same, and it's something that's not looked into as much. It's really serious. I've been there myself and it's horrible.’

Malin isn’t the only reality star to call out the damaging effects of the shows, in a moving YouTube video in 2017 former Geordie Shore contestant Sarah Goodhart exposes the worrying effect of starring in these kinds of TV shows. Sophie Gradon applauded Sarah for speaking up in her video at the time, saying she had a similar experience on Love Island.

‘I’m worried that the reality television scene is one day going to push someone too far,’ Sarah says in the video.

‘In the casting process for these shows, do you think they look for stable well-balanced people? Of course they don’t. They look for people who are unstable, ‘psychotic’ who have anger issues… these are the perfect sort of people to pluck away and manipulate.’

Sophie had previously been open about her struggle with depression, tweeting 'Hi guys, no not dead just battling a little bit of depression. I'll come back I promise x' in September last year, and 'Feel so guilty when my anxiety takes over, for not wanting to see or speak to anyone. Some days I get so overwhelmed I just want to nap!' in October.

Grazia is proud to support a Bauer-media wide Where’s Your Head At. We need YOUR help to make it a legal requirement to have a trained mental health first aider in every workplace or college. Please sign our petition at wheresyourheadat.org and use the hashtag #WheresYourHeadAt to support the campaign.