Love Island bosses are accused of turning blind eye to contestant’s mental health struggles after he was shown sobbing on air
- ITV is accused of turning a blind eye to mental health of Jacques O’Neill, 23
- He was seen crying and shaking before deciding to leave the Love Island show
- It came as producers brought Adam Collard in to vie for his partner Paige Thorne
ITV has been accused of turning a blind eye to a Love Island contestant’s mental health struggles after it aired scenes of him crying uncontrollably.
Tuesday night’s episode was dominated by Jacques O’Neill, 23, sobbing after producers brought in another man who was interested in his partner Paige Thorne, 24.
Mr O’Neill – whose sister last week revealed ‘struggles with his emotions’ because of ADHD – was shaking and stuttering as he told his co-stars he was leaving the villa because he was no longer feeling like himself after 2018 contestant Adam Collard arrived to stir up trouble. During his first time on the show Collard caused controversy by pairing up with a succession of women, prompting Women’s Aid to claim the way he was acting showed warning signs of behaviour that could turn into emotional abuse.
Emotional goodbye: A sobbing Jacques O’Neill tells his partner Paige Thorne he has decided to leave the show
The charity issued another warning to ITV about the safeguarding of the contestants after Mr Collard’s return this week.
Love Island fans were furious that bosses orchestrated a situation that led to Mr O’Neill being so upset – especially as the network has been under so much scrutiny over its duty of care.
Before the current series, ITV released a plan to further improve mental health support to help contestants cope with fame following the suicides of ex-contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, and host Caroline Flack.
In 2019, the network was forced to axe The Jeremy Kyle Show following the death of a guest, Steve Dymond, 63. It prompted MPs to launch an inquiry into reality TV and the way participants are cared for.
The current series of Love Island has attracted an audience of up to 3.5million viewers each night.
After Mr O’Neill left, one viewer wrote on Twitter: ‘The producers make someone out to be the villain every year just for good TV. Jacques is a nice bloke suffering with mental health issues. We all need to support him. The producers of the show will never learn.’
Three suicides linked to the reality show: Contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon and Presenter Caroline Flack
Another fan accused ITV of ‘over-stepping the line to make good television with no regard for someone’s mental health’. Last week it was revealed that Mr O’Neill – a rugby player and ex-boyfriend of Michael Owen’s daughter Gemma who is also a contestant this year – has ADHD.
Following a row which was aired on the show, his sister wrote online that Mr O’Neill was diagnosed aged nine and it means he ‘struggles with his emotions’. ITV declined to comment on whether it was aware that he has ADHD.
A spokesman said: ‘Welfare and duty of care towards our contributors is our primary concern. We have dedicated welfare producers and psychological support on hand at all times who monitor and regularly speak to all of the islanders in private and off camera.’
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