Custom Search 1

More psychological support needed for reality TV contestants

CONCERNS: The new season of Love Island starts on Monday (Jun 3) (Photo credit: ITV)

BETTER PSYCHOLOGIAL support for people taking part in reality TV programmes is urgently needed, says the British Psychological Society (BPS).

The BPS, the membership body for the UK’s psychologists, has launched new guidelines for production companies following the deaths of a contestant from the Jeremy Kyle show and two contestants on Love Island, which begins its new run on Monday (Jun 3).

The guidance, Psychology and Media Productions, clearly sets out the practical and psychological support that should be standard for all members of the public taking part in any media productions. Produced by an expert group of psychologists, the guidance is already proving its worth in helping production companies to safeguard the mental health of vulnerable participants.

Chair of the BPS Media Ethics Group John Oates said: “Psychological research shows how broadcast media can have powerful roles in influencing public attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

“This new guide has been developed after extensive consultation and piloting across the broadcast industry and aims to provide best practice for commissioners and producers.|

BPS chief executive Sarb Bajwa said better psychological support for people taking part in reality TV programmes should be put in place as a matter of urgency. He said: “Psychologists have an important role to play in supporting production companies and participants and we believe this new guide will help to strengthen the current framework.”

The BPS regularly advises productions on protecting participants. Some of the high profile programmes members have worked on include Child of Our Time, Castaway 2000 and Horizon: Rory Bremner: ADHD and Me.

Many psychologists play active parts in all aspects of broadcasts, as presenters, as content and design consultants, and in developing and implementing safeguarding procedures for people who take part in broadcasts, including reality TV.

Members support productions in a variety of ways, including anticipating risks of distress or other harm to family, relations or friends where sensitive issues are portrayed, recognising the significance of social contexts and potential vulnerabilities; or ensuring thought is given to how portrayals involving children or young people may be felt to be embarrassing or unwelcome when they become older and sensitivities change.

The group has welcomed the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee inquiry into reality TV, which will examine duty of care to participants in broadcasts and the possible need for a regulatory framework. Members are offering expert support and input, based on extensive experience in this area.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.