How Love Island and other reality TV can affect our mental health

What impact does watching reality TV have on our mental health? Elsie, 17, shares her thoughts and gives some tips for ways you can look after your mental health while enjoying shows like Love Island.

Whether you love it or hate it, Love Island has returned to our screens for the summer.

For those of you who are yet to experience the Love Island craze, a group of young singles are sent into a luxury villa in Majorca with the common goal of seeking out love. The length of their stay on the island is dependent on votes from the public, with the opportunity for the winning couple to come home with a total of £50,000.

Specifically targeted at a young audience, the show - alongside many other reality TV shows – can indeed have an effect on young people’s mental health. This is rather unsurprising when we consider that while watching these people on our screens for two months, we are being continually inundated with uniform body types, which are not representative of the diverse society that we live in.

All bodies are "beach bodies".

Now don’t be fooled, I am (rather shamelessly) a Love Island fanatic. Allow me to personally guarantee you that for the next two months, the Love Island theme-tune will be blasting from my TV every night at 9pm. While I sit anxiously on the edge of my seat, waiting to see if my favourite couple will be sent home or not, we must always remind ourselves that what we are seeing on our screens is far from reality.

As the countdown to summer draws closer, the pressures young people face are not helped by the commonly used phrase "beach body"; all bodies are "beach bodies". The show seemingly promotes the idea that physical appearance and attributes are more important than personality and character. It is a natural process for humans to compare ourselves with one another, often with the positive goal of bettering ourselves. However, sometimes this can be taken too far. The lack of body diversity on Love Island (one of its major criticisms) means young people - myself included - can be left feeling like our bodies are not ‘good enough’, which can elicit feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

Remember that your worth and value are based on far more than your physical appearance.

If Love Island is the kind of programme that you like, then enjoy it - I certainly will be! But I urge you to remember that your worth and value are based on far more than your physical appearance. It is completely normal to feel insecure about your body, and the majority of us will experience this at some point in our lives. If you notice that you are struggling, or obsessively comparing yourself to others, including those on programmes such as Love Island, do not hesitate to get help. Speak to a trusted family member, teacher, friend, GP - anyone that you are comfortable speaking to.

Author: Elsie, 17

Find help: body image

If you’re struggling with how you look, have a look at our body image page. We have advice on how you can build your self-esteem, and what to do if you’re worried about your body.

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