Love Island death threats, depression and no support – what life after ITV2 show is like

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Love Island death threats, depression and no support – what life after ITV2 show is like

A former Love Island star says she still gets death threats after she revealed she was “severely depressed” due to lack of support after leaving the show.

Zara Holland, a 22-year-old model from North Ferriby, was stripped of her Miss Great Britain title after having sex with fellow islander Alex Bowen in 2016, and revealed to the Daily Mail she doesn’t believe she would have “got so severely depressed” if she had known about any support.

In the aftermath of the devastating news that Sophie Gradon, 32, who was in the villa with Zara, was found dead at her parents’ home near Newcastle last week, Zara has spoken out about the blur of interviews and red carpet events that quickly faded, leaving her to battle with mental health problems.



Zara Holland urges this year's Love Islanders not to have sex on TV

Zara Holland urges this year’s Love Islanders not to have sex on TV

She said to the Daily Mail: “I could not stop thinking about Love Island.

“It really hit me, what I’d done, and I felt so ashamed. I felt I’d let everyone down, like I could never make anyone proud of me again. I’d have nightmares and panic attacks. I didn’t care what happened to me.”

Eventually, Zara was prescribed anti-depressants and fortnightly therapy sessions, in an attempt to take her out of the “horrendous, dark place” she was in.

She said: “I was in a horrendous, dark place and would cry every day. Losing my Miss Great Britain title hit me hard: it was biggest thing I had ever achieved.

“I was a naive 20-year-old. I’d gone on Love Island to try to open new doors in my career and meet a boyfriend but I was the only one who wasn’t coupled off. In the communal bedrooms, everyone was having sex around me.



Zara Holland cuddled up to Alex Bowen on Love Island last year

Zara Holland cuddled up to Alex Bowen on Love Island last year

“I felt so lonely and rejected. On the day it happened [having sex with Alex], I’d been voted the least attractive and most boring out of all the women (by the other housemates) and was then given the task of choosing someone to go on a date with.

“We were on our own in a hideaway and it just happened. I’m not blaming drink, but I am a lightweight and we’d had mojitos and champagne.”

Zara says she was given a full medical beforehand, including psychiatric evaluation, but did not receive any aftercare and did not know it was available, as ITV say.

“I don’t believe I would have got so severely depressed if I had known there was support,’ she said.

“From the moment I left, I heard nothing until the day after Sophie was found dead and they phoned to see how I was. This was the first time in two years.”



Zara Holland launching Beach Angels range

Zara Holland launching Beach Angels range

ITV, however, say their production team maintained contact with her in the months after she left.

In a statement to the Daily Mail regarding the surrounding criticism of lack of support, ITV said: “All our islanders are offered psychological support before, during and after their time in the villa. We take our duty of care very seriously and this is always our top priority.

“We discuss with islanders, before and after the show, how their lives might change and difficulties they might face.”

Zara said: “Sophie said that when she asked for help, they offered a ten-minute video Skype call with a counsellor. I don’t think that was good enough.

“Even to this day I get death threats. I got a message recently from a woman saying ‘I know how ugly you are, I want to punch you in the face’.”



Sophie was a former Miss Newcastle

Bafta-winning Love Island is currently on its fourth series, seeing glamorous contestants “couple up” in order to win a share of the £50,000 prize jackpot.

It is watched by more than three million viewers, with the recent dumping of contestants Eyal and Zara being the most watched ITV2 show in history.

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