AS MILLIONS of people tuned in to the first episode of the new series of Love Island last night, there were still concerns being raised about the effect the show has on the mental health of young people.

The show, which is now into it’s fifth series, features 12 contestants ‘looking for love’ in a private Majorca villa.

This year, all the contestants are below the age of 30, ranging between 20 and 28-years-old. Due to the relatively low age of contestants, it can lead young people to position these people as role models and aspire to be more like them.

CEO of Zac’s Youth Bar, Matt Moreton said this is something his youth workers have seen first hand.

“I think reality TV has to be seen as entertainment and it has to be watched watched with that in mind,” he said.

“That being said, it does create role models for young people, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and certain pressures - be that body image, owning the right things or having the right opinions.

“The youth workers have seen a negative effect when Love Island in particular is on.”

Mr Moreton suggested that shows like Love Island do not have to be a bad things and can even have the opposite effect.

He added: “In another sense, they can be a positive thing. If the right role model comes along with the right values, they can have a really positive impact.”

According to a YouGov survey 24 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said that reality TV made them worry about their body image while 23 per cent said they had suicidal feelings because of concerns in relation to their body image.

A further 34 per cent said images used in advertising and promotion on social media made them worry about their body image.

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Millions of people enjoy Love Island for a whole range of reasons.

“Our concern is how the programme projects body images that are not diverse, largely unrealistic and presented as aspirational.

“Our research clearly shows that a large number of young people say reality TV has a negative impact on how they feel about their own bodies.

“Concern about body image is linked to anxiety, depression and feelings of shame and disgust.”

Contestants on the show are almost always conventionally attractive and there is rarely anything in the way of body diversity.

The show’s creative director Richard Cowles defended the casting choices and said he wants contestants to be “attracted to one another”.

He said: “First and foremost, it’s an entertainment show and it’s about people wanting to watch who you’ve got on screen falling in love with one another.”

“Yes, we want to be as representative as possible but we also want them to be attracted to one another.

“Also, we’re not saying that everyone that’s in there is how you’re supposed to look. We’re saying here’s a group of people that we want to watch for eight weeks, and we want to watch them fall in love. That’s not at the front of our mind, but we do want to be as diverse as possible.”

The show has increasingly been linked to mental health and suicide in recent years.

Series two contestant and former Miss Great Britain, Sophie Gradon was found dead in June 2018, at the age of 32.

Nine months later, in March, former semi-professional footballer and series three contestant Mike Thalassitis was found hanged.

There had been suggestions that not enough was done for contestants to help them deal with their new found fame and lifestyle after exiting the show.

Two weeks ago, ITV released a statement about their duty of care processes. The statement promised that there would be enhanced psychological support, social media and financial management training for all contestants, and an aftercare package, including at least eight therapy sessions and regular contact for a period of 14 months up until the end of the next series.

The changes came following a review of their current processes by expert physician and former Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Litchfield.

Dr Litchfield said: “I have reviewed Love Island’s duty of care processes from end to end and they show a degree of diligence that demonstrates the seriousness with which this is taken by the production team.

“The processes and the support offered to Islanders have necessarily evolved as the show has developed and grown in popularity.

“The aim throughout has been to identify vulnerabilities at an early stage so that necessary adjustments can be made or potential Islanders can be advised that the show is not right for them.

“A high level of professional expertise has been engaged to provide comprehensive support not only while young people are actively engaged with the show but also for an extended period when they are adjusting to life thereafter.

“Professional input is a key element in safeguarding the wellbeing of Islanders but the genuine caring attitudes I have observed from those who make the show are as important.”