Don’t claim to be a mental health advocate but join in with the Love Island hype

Everyone these days is a mental health advocate.

Or at least, they say they are.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with sharing “it’s okay not to be okay” posts, and encouraging friends to slap on a facemask as glorified “self-care”, but is it really doing all that much?

Let’s talk Love Island. Now, I want to stress that I’m not one of those “Oh my god, you watch reality TV? You’re so trashy!” intellectual snobs. I’ve watched my fair share of trash tv. But what disturbs me is the number of people I’ve seen claiming to be an advocate for mental health (or at least understand it) but as soon as Love Island is thrown into the mix that all goes out the window.

Firstly, let’s think about the number of times that pictures of the show’s stars began circling the internet even before they even entered the house. And sure enough, people took to the internet to pull apart their physical appearance and make vast sweeping statements and generalisations based on their looks alone.

Do people need to be reminded that several former contestants have committed suicide following being on the show due to depression caused predominantly by the amount of hate they endured online? Bullying is bullying, and that includes online.

It also surprises me the number of people who tune in religiously, day in day out, saying who they “hate” and who they “love”, I’ve seen people be called trashy, slutty, cheap. Mention this, and the Love Island fans will be quick to chime in with “Oh but, they CHOOSE to go on there!”. Yes. They choose to go on a show. They have not chosen to be bullied, ridiculed, body-shamed and generalised, and just because they have left themselves vulnerable to it, that doesn’t mean we should all take advantage of it.

YouGov surveys show that 1/4 of young adults are suicidal due to their feelings about their body image, and one in four aged 18-24 said that reality TV shows are one of the things that perpetuate this feeling.

If you sit watching Love Island every night, pull apart their physical appearance and background on social media, then no amount of sharing “it’s okay not to be okay” and claiming you’re “against body-shaming” is going to make up for that.

Sure, watching the show in itself doesn’t mean you agree with some of the mental-health harming sentiments, but by watching it, you are part of the problem in its ever-growing popularity which keeps it on the air.

Image: ITV

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