Dr Alex interview: We have responsibility to protect Love Island stars

Dr Alex George has declared that social media needs to do more in order to protect Love Island contestants from the abhorrent abuse they receive online.

The A&E doctor and UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador pointed out that although the ITV dating show overhauled its duty of care protocols, there is still an onus on sites like Twitter and Instagram to prevent trolls from posting.

Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk ahead of World Mental Health Day, Dr Alex said: ‘I think there’s so much more awareness now of the process you go through and the protocols in place are more rigorous than ever before, but there also is an element of responsibility on how we talk to people in the media and public eye.’

‘If you got rid of Love Island, would that get rid of the problem [of trolling]?’ Dr Alex asked. ‘I don’t think that changes the issue.’

He stressed the way in which people treat people one another on social platforms must change.

‘I run an Instagram account with 2million followers on it, I’m not going to have all 2million agree with me all the time,’ he said. ‘But I would expect people to voice that in a way that’s respectful and create reasonable arguments.

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‘When that turns into trolling, that’s when we’ve got to look at it like when do we create boundaries? What do we do to protect people online? I think that is something we have to look at.’

Dr Alex admitted that he doesn’t think we have the answers yet when it comes to making social media a safer place. He acknowledged that having a verification process for every account could exclude younger people or people who might not be able to prove their identity.

‘You create a barrier and I think that is a risk as well,’ he said.

How does the former Love Island star deal with trolling? ‘I have a bit of a mantra that I don’t take criticism from someone I wouldn’t ask the opinion of,’ he shared.

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‘If someone is being horrible to you, you think why are they doing that and where does it come from? Often people’s hatred comes from a place of insecurity or difficulty or sadness in their own life and I try my best to let that roll off my shoulders, but of course somethings are going to impact you.

‘Most people are inherently good. Most people are out there to support people.’

Dr Alex has joined forces with KIND Snacks this Mental Health Day for its launch for Ment-all health, a campaign designed to encourage cross-generational conversations, and inspire people to provide support to others, simply by starting a conversation.

‘The campaign has revealed a clear disparity between different generations, not only in their willingness to discuss how they’re feeling, but also in their ability to describe what mental health even means. 

‘The real concern is that if there’s a generation that doesn’t fully understand mental health, how can they recognise it in themselves and therefore ask for support.

‘Therefore, this World Mental Health Day, KIND Snacks is calling on the nation to show kindness to older relatives, neighbours, and community members, by simply starting a conversation. Because mental health affects people of all ages, and that one conversation could have more of an impact than you realise.’

Dr Alex shared that a huge passion of his is around education and mental health. ‘At school, I believe a big part of what we need to do, particularly for the next generation, is looking at how do we create an environment and a culture to talk about mental health and have an open dialogue? How to talk about it in a way that they are comfortable?

‘Part of that is giving young people the emotional literacy, the ability to take the feelings and the emotions they are having and being able to label them correctly and voice those emotions and understand them and be able to handle them and be able to take care of themselves.’

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