TV and reality stars are coming under increasing pressures and are at risk, says TV psychologist, Jo Hemmings, who specialises in working with celebrities and works directly with a host of reality shows in prepping their contestants before and after the show.

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

Hemmings - a behavioural psychologist and a member of both the British Psychological Society and the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies - sat down with businessman and influencer Matt Haycox on the Matt Haycox Show, in the aftermath of the tragic Caroline Flack passing to discuss the extreme pressures that being on the television can bring, and how social media can exacerbate this.

Alarmingly, Jo, who has worked with many TV presenters over a stellar twenty year career said more celebrities than you might be at risk from severe mental health issues, and more could be done to help them:

"There’s a thing called suicide ideation which is the concept, the thought of harming or killing yourself and is much more common among celebrities than one might care to think”

Jo continued:

"When stars are employed by the (TV) channels I think the channels have a duty of care for their celebrities. I think one very good way to keep an eye on people is to keep an eye on their social media platforms and what they’re posting themselves.

“Very often I see this in all sorts of people in my clients, celebrities, contestants - there is a mood change in what they’re posting - it becomes less frequent. There’s something in there I feel that TV channels can pick up on this when they’re employing someone who may not be actively working for them at the time but they employ, and reach out to them and say ‘are you OK? What’s going on, I see your mood has changed on Instagram, Twitter, whatever it is.’ I think there’s a lot to pick up on there which makes duty of care for the TV presenters, probably an easier thing to do, to take care of.”

Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Extreme Stress

In the light of the Caroline Flack tragedy, Jo has had many people reach out to her to say how much the situation has caused upset, and cast light on their own troubles. As such, she has put together an exclusive top 5 tips for Female First readers on how to cope in moments of extreme stress:

1. Make a prioritised checklist of what needs to be addressed and tackle each item individually– drilling down to stop feeling overwhelmed. One the main contributory factors to stress and anxiety, is the feeling that you have little or no control over what you have to do. This lack of control increases the stress hormone cortisol, which makes tackling your to-do list even harder. By drilling down, you make each task separate and distinct from the overall picture and so much easier to tackle individually.

2. Don't be afraid to ask people for help. The fear of reaching out to other people for advice, in case they judge you for your lack of knowledge, is a big stressor for many in business. Remember that everyone has been in this situation and most people will be pleased that you took the trouble to ask for them for their advice and be happy to impart their knowledge and experience. It’s especially helpful if you can find a role model who has been through a similar journey or experience to you.

3. Know your limits and boundaries and protect them. This is about ensuring that you recognise where your stress points are. If your instinct or your self-awareness is telling you that that you’re feeling less able to cope, listen to them. It maybe recognising a healthy work/life balance, learning that it’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes and understanding that facing your concerns and dealing with them effectively, is actually how we build resilience.

4. Rest. Take short breaks during your working day, get lots of sleep, keep well hydrated and practice mindfulness, taking time out to focus on the now, rather than fret about the future. Rest isn’t just putting your feet up – it’s also about ensuring that you have a good diet and exercise routine. Being fit and healthy, psychologically and physiologically, is the single best thing that you can do to keep stress at bay. Even a brisk walk and a little self-talk will help.

5. Be forgiving on yourself. No one gets it right every time. Sometimes you have to get it wrong in order to learn from it and move forward effectively. Use poor experiences to start creating and developing new strategies and habits. The people that learn to laugh at their mistakes, not only instantly release endorphins into our systems – a natural feel-good high – it also distracts us from stressors and helps give you clarity, determination and perspective on how those errors of judgement, can be utilised to better decisions in the future.

TV behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings was speaking on The Matt Haycox Show podcast. 

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