Mike Thalassitis: The Importance of Mental Health 2.0

Monday, 18 March 2019

In July last year I published a post about Love Island's Sophie Gradon who sadly took her own life. Less than a year later, another contestant of the ITV show has tragically committed suicide.

Mike Thalassitis was a 26 year old ex-footballer from London, who shot to fame on Love Island in 2017, and again in 2018 on Channel 4's Celebs Go Dating. Coming across like a strong, confident and successful young man, the news of his death has shocked the nation, and made me want to address the stigma around men and mental health.

Men are often made to feel silenced when expressing emotion, and because of this we've seen some of the biggest celebrity personalities tragically take their own life - just a few weeks ago the front-man of electronic dance act The Prodigy, Keith Flint, was found hanged in his home. In England, around 1 in every 8 men suffer with a mental health disorder, and suicide is proven to be the biggest killer of men under 45 years old.

When posting tributes to Mike Thalassitis online, one consistent thing i've seen fellow celebrities, co-stars and friends of Mike address, is the lack of support that TV shows offer its contestants after you leave the show. Former Love Islander Malin Andersson has hit out at bosses for not offering adequate aftercare, using her own experiences as an example. Malin has had a tough few years after losing friend Sophie Gradon, her mother, and her 4-week old daughter. In a string of tweets, Malin said "enough is enough", and that she only received flowers from the producers when her daughter died (x). Another Islander, Dom Lever, has also called ITV out for their lack of aftercare - "you get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don’t get any support unless you’re number one." (x)

While some argue that there is only so much that television producers are responsible for, there is absolutely a clear lack of media training and mental health care when it comes to reality stars. I do not believe management companies are taking the health of their talent into consideration, which is undoubtably causing increased stress levels and to some, no way out. As well as this, consumers aren't helping situations at all. I was absolutely appalled by the amount of "trolling" Megan McKenna is receiving since Mike's death.

Megan and Mike were on/off dating throughout 2018, and Megan is receiving a huge backlash at her current choice to stay silent on social media since his passing just 3 days ago. Some cruel internet trolls are evening blaming Megan for his death, mistaking silence for ignorance, rather than just simply grieving. What do you think this is going to do to Megan's mental health? Do you really want to be seeing the same headlines yet again in a years time?

We have to stop this - we have to help each other and we have to reduce this stigma that is still so prominent when it comes to mental health. Stop bullying people, stop "trolling", stop laughing at a man because he cries.

Please see below for some articles that do mental health advocacy more justice than I can, as well as some charities and contacts if you need help.

  • It's time to break the code of silence behind male suicide - GQ
  • Why more men than women die by suicide - BBC.
  • Meet the Bristol man behind the live-saving new documentary about male mental health - Bristol Post
  • Men and mental health - Mental Health Foundation
  • "Man up?" Getting more men in mental health - Mind
  • Not Talking about mental health is literally killing men - Mens Health
  • Matt Hancock says reality shows must support mental health - The Guardian

My thoughts are with Mike Thalassitis' family, friends, Megan McKenna, and anyone affected by this story. Please do not suffer in silence. x

© Image Source: Mike Thalassitis // Ian West via Getty Images

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