Rick Edwards says there’s ‘no excuse’ for reality stars not to be offered aftercare

25 March 2019, 15:40 | Updated: 25 March 2019, 19:40

Rick Edwards joined us in the Heart studio
Rick Edwards joined us in the Heart studio. Picture: Heart

His comments come after Love Island producers were slammed by the public and former contestants for not providing enough aftercare in the wake of Mike Thalassitis' death

Rick Edwards has called on reality TV producers to provide more aftercare to its contestants, arguing that there is 'no excuse' for them not to do so.

Speaking exclusively to Heart.co.uk, the presenter, 39, began by saying that bosses of shows that he's worked on have taken great care in looking after contestants during the show.

Read more: Love Island star Alex Miller reveals he considered suicide following reality TV fame

He said: "The duty of care when they're on the shows is amazing. They're really rigourous. Put the time in, put the effort in to make sure everyone is OK.

However, Rick, who has presented shows like Tool Academy, Make Or Break and Made In Chelsea, added: "Unfortunately, and I don't think this is a deliberate things, there is no aftercare that I've seen. I guess that's because people didn't think about it. I don't think people realised that they've got to help people when they come out of these situations.

"And now I think people are realising and I think they're going to have to put in systems to look after people. Because it's a mad experience. I had no idea what it would be like to go from total anonymity to suddenly being the subject of intense scrutiny from the public and the press for six months, and it being good and bad stuff - and how your mental health deals with that. It's a really big ask.

"I think it's really difficult. We've got to do something about it, because it's obvious that it's not working currently.

"Before anyone goes on these shows they are psych tested to make sure they can handle being on the show. But there is obviously degrees of you passing your psych test, and someone who is absolutely level-headed together is maybe not going to make the best telly.

"So you've got people going on these shows who are relatively fragile, and given that you've got to support them afterwards, and there's really no excuse not to."

His comments come after many former Love Island stars called on the show to provide better aftercare for contestants following Mike Thalassitis' recent death.

Dom Lever, who appeared on the show in 2017 alongside Mike, wrote on Twitter: "I’m shocked at the news!! me and @MikeThalassitis may not have seen eye to eye but he was a top guy.

"You get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don’t get any support unless you’re number one".

Following the controversy, Love Island revealed that it would be offering therapy to former contestants.

A statement released by ITV said: "When something so awful happens it is natural to enter a period of soul-searching and ask whether anything could have been done to help avoid something so terrible happening.

"It is not for us to speculate on the reasons behind this tragedy and what is so heartbreaking is that we simply cannot know."

"Our duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each Islander," the statement added. "This follows three key stages; pre-filming, filming, and aftercare.

"We work with both an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion on the programme."

They added that the process is 'evolving' and they had hired a physician called Dr Paul Litchfield to review its internal policy.

Mike Thalassitis was recently found dead in a wood near his home
Mike Thalassitis was recently found dead in a wood near his home. Picture: Getty

The review led them to the introduction of financial and social media training, as well as mental health counselling, to contestants after they'd left the villa.

The statement concluded: "The key focus will be for us to no longer be reliant on the islanders asking us for support but for us to proactively check in with them on a regular basis.

"Having said all of this about Love Island, we must not lose sight of the wider issue which is the importance of the conversation on mental health.

"Across ITV, we have worked with a number of charities including CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) on Project 84 and with Samaritans and CALM on Coronation Street, tackling the issue of male suicide. Conversations about mental health have never been more important."

River Hunters with Rick Edwards is on every Monday at 9PM on HISTORY®