All employers have a duty of care towards overall employee wellbeing, be it mental or physical. We have seen in recent times, that some of these duties are being overlooked.
Daytime TV show, The Jeremy Kyle Show has been axed from ITV’s permanent broadcasting schedule due to the suicide of a contestant just a week after appearing on the show. The man who passed away was called Steve Dymond, and had previously suffered with depression according to his fiancee. The question we are all asking, is why didn’t he receive enough support, and why was his mental health not considered post production?
The Jeremy Kyle Show show received nearly 1 million viewers per episode, and accounted for 22% of the entire daytime television viewers. Sir Simon Wessely, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “It’s the theatre of cruelty. Yes, it might entertain a million people a day but, then again, so did Christians versus lions.”
By the media (ITV) cancelling the show going forward sets a tone, and hopefully is a sign of progress towards mental health within the UK.
Clinical Psychologist, and Scientific Director at 87% Dr Serra Pitts commented: “Though perhaps delayed, this move by ITV indicates a change in the social landscape. For years the format of these programmes has both highlighted and contributed to negative stereotypes around diversity and mental health. Exploiting people's real life struggles for entertainment value is unethical and in poor taste. Now more than ever, we are seeing that the way people treat each other has an impact on their mental health. This is true on a personal level and more widely on a social level. In fact, the duty of care lies with all of us.
She continues, “Business leaders in particular are well placed to set a positive example, and reduce the unnecessary stigma around mental health.”
It has been announced that the show which has been on our screens since 2005 is to be taken off air with immediate effect, ITV’s CEO, Dame Carolyn McCall commented: “Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show.”
In addition to this, Parliament has launched probes into reality TV as a whole, looking into their levels of mental health support. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes. We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place.”
Suicide prevention minister Jackie Doyle-Price said that this needs to, “make us consider what we class as entertainment”. Which brings about a whole new debate around another popular ITV programme, Love Island.
Love Island hit our screens in the summer of 2015 and has sadly since had two contestants take their own lives since the show started. Sophie Gradon, who participated in the first series in 2015 and died in 2018. Mike Thalassitis who appeared in series 3, and passed away earlier this year. Both of these deaths were linked to the lack of after care they received having being catapulted into fame at such a fast rate but weren’t given the right levels of support.
It is believed that Love Island is still set to air this summer even with the public backlash demanding Love Island to be cancelled.