Amy Hart has transformed since exciting the Love Island villa, but she still says she's committed to therapy even after leaving the show behind. In a time when public figures can be ridiculed for speaking out about their mental health, she should be praised for her openness
If ever I might have wanted to become 'famous' for any length of time, watching the internet trolls treatment of Amy Hart's Love Island has put me off for life. Prior to her deciding to make an exit after a heartbreak (watched nationwide) she didn't want to endure the after-effects of, 26-year-old air hostess from Sussex, was subjected to a disgusting amount of ridicule.
Related: Love Island: Harmless TV or seriously impacting our self-esteem?
Endless tweets, unflattering comments, memes dissecting every inch of her as a person and woman - I had to close my app. I barely watched the show and even then I couldn't stomach looking at the 'commentary' - I was bullied and trolled using social media for a summer during my college years by one person, so it made me feel nauseous to think what seeing that multiplied by thousands could do to anyone's self-esteem.
A new Amy Hart
Happily, it seems Hart can't see much of it now, thanks to social media training she was given by the show's producers.
‘I’ve actually been quite lucky and I was thinking I haven’t been getting many negative comments but then I realised it’s because in the post-Love Island social media training they teach you about blocking certain words from your comments," she said on the Loose Women panel this week.
‘They teach you to combat the trolls and say don’t reply to them, and about blocking certain comments, like I blocked ‘fat’, and ‘ugly’, so if people comment that then it doesn’t show up on my feed."
It was a measure she needed to take, she says of "self-preservation" after she saw only a glimpse of what would come up after typing her name in a Google search.
"It came up ‘Amy Hart Love Island ugly’ 180 tweets and the old me probably would have clicked on it and read them, but I didn’t because I was like, what’s the point?
"I don’t know these people."
The latter statement alone is an indication of the steps she has been taking to focus on her own mental health and wellbeing.
Help and support
She says said she is committed to having therapy, despite being finished with the show.
She told Grazia magazine she cannot fault the series for their improved aftercare, saying: “I’ve got 14 months of therapy guaranteed, but if I need it afterwards I can still have it."
She is, she says, seeking and using the support provided after her mental health took a toll in the villa. She explained the pressurised environment made it difficult to cope.
“[Before leaving] I just sat there and thought, ‘There are 17 other people in this villa but I am so lonely.’ I went to the Beach Hut and just sobbed.”
Following the tragic deaths of two former Love Island contestants, ITV drew criticism for the perceived lack of aftercare it provided, but Hart says it has helped her immeasurably.
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“I can’t fault the support. People have had a lot of bad things to say about them and they might have upped the aftercare but it’s the same team who’ve worked on the show for five years. I don’t agree with the criticism – they are amazing.”
The fact that she is openly talking about her decision to go to therapy should be praised; mental health is still hugely stigmatised. There still remains a fear of judgement, so those that need help feel ashamed to ask for it.
How many times do we hear of the same thing happening, only for the inevitable backlash to start?
Mental health struggles are commonplace: studies say 1 in 4 will have them throughout their lifetime. Hart's openness in seeking - and welcoming - support is helping to normalise the conversation.
So why isn't that all over our Twitter feeds?
Main photograph: @GMB
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