The measures include welfare plans “to support participants before, during and after filming.”
The updated protocols follow extensive discussion of the show’s duty of care towards its contestants after being rocked by two suicides of former castmates, and that of host Caroline Flack, within 24 months.
Season 2 contestant Sophie Gradon died by suicide in June 2018. The following March, Mike Thalassitis, who appeared on season 3 of the show, also died by suicide. In February 2020, the show’s longtime host Caroline Flack died by suicide while awaiting trial on assault charges after allegedly attacking her boyfriend.
ITV’s new protocols include guidance on pre-filming, filming and “aftercare”, including:
- Assessments by doctors, psychologists and contestants’ own general practitioners
- Social media training, financial advice and “adjusting to life back home”
- 8 therapy sessions after conclusion of the season
ITV had previously hired two doctors, former chief medical officer Dr Paul Litchfield and consultant chartered clinical psychologist Dr. Matthew Gould to review and update its welfare procedures.
“Society’s appreciation of the importance of mental health and wellbeing has grown enormously in recent years and the pandemic has brought that into even sharper focus,” said Dr. Litchfield. “Reducing the risk of harm, where possible, is an imperative but promoting good mental health is also necessary. ITV’s evolving commitment to these issues, backed up by tangible action, is an example to others in the industry and beyond.”