Reality TV and Mental Health consensus: Zara Holland Speaks Out

Zara Holland, former Miss Great Britain winner, has spoken out about the impact that appearing on Love Island took on her mental health.

Appearing on the show in 2016, the former contestant was just 20 when she took part in Love Island. She was stripped of her title as Miss Great Britain following her decision to sleep with a male contestant during filming, with the organization subsequently justifying their decision in a statement released before Holland left the villa. They claimed that she ‘simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title.’ This decision was met with widespread criticism across social media, particularly as Holland was not made aware of the situation until she returned home.

Zara Holland as Miss Great Britain

Last week Holland described the challenges she has faced since taking part in the show, telling Newsbeat that ‘it was a very weird experience and she never thought she’d be able to get better’. She said that she ‘felt neglected’ after leaving, leading to a difficult period with anxiety and depression that resulted in an appointment with a psychologist and a prescription for anti-depressants. She also criticized the lack of support from the Love Island team, although this has been challenged by the producers.

It’s not just Holland who has linked her experience on reality television with a decline in her mental health. Despite these shows often including psychological assessments during the application process and psychiatrists on hand during filming, it seems that the pressures of appearing on reality television could have a lasting effect. In a YouTube video a former Geordie Shore housemate, Sarah Goodhart, said that her panic attackswere worse than ever following her experience on the show. The tragic death of Sophie Gradon last month, a former Love Island contestant who spoke openly of her battles with anxiety and depression, has also left many people asking whether reality television producers really are providing the support that contestants may need when taking part in these shows.

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