Content Note: This article contains a discussion of mental health issues, including a brief mention of suicide
it is possible that dr. Alex George rose to fame starring in ITV’s Love Island in 2018, but he’s more interested in talking about what he’s done since.
Reading: Alex from love island
now working as the uk’s first youth mental health ambassador to the government, alex uses social media to promote his work to de-stigmatize mental health, raise funds for his next project, early intervention support centers and offer advice on how to deal with life’s difficulties. various challenges, of which he has faced many.
alex’s empathy for young people is instantly clear when he talks about his mixed experience while studying medicine at the university of exeter. “My first, second and third year of medical school was doing well and really enjoying it. then in fourth grade I really started to struggle and got to a point where I think I developed mild depression.”
His personal struggles have motivated him to push harder for change from within the government. In July 2020, Alex lost his younger brother Illyr to suicide. much of the work he does now is to prevent other young people and their families from going through the same tragedy. he tells me that his current project, creating early support centres, “will be a legacy to my brother” if he gets the £250m the government needs. “I believe that he will save and improve many lives across the country…if I can pull it off, I will be very happy.”
having worked for the nhs during the pandemic and, like any other british, witnessed the mounting accusations of misconduct against the prime minister and the conservative government, do you find it difficult to separate your own political beliefs from your work as ambassador? ? “Mental health is bipartisan,” he says simply. “I’m there to work with anyone because, ultimately, working with people in power is an opportunity to create change, and that’s what matters to me.”
his recent campaign, #postyourpill, tries to destigmatize mental health medication, a taboo alex says he struggled to overcome when he found help in college: “i didn’t feel like i could talk to college as a doctor -being – I thought ‘they won’t let me graduate if I can’t take care of myself’ so I didn’t.”
“children’s emotional literacy is now better than mine”
however, alex is hopeful for the next generation. he notes that the “emotional literacy” of the children he visits in schools is “infinitely better than mine, even in college.” however, while acknowledging that progress has been made in raising awareness of mental health issues, he argues that this generation, the first to grow up in the age of social media and technology from birth, faces unprecedented challenges in many ways.
“every generation has its challenges, but I think one thing that is particularly difficult is that the world of social media, that hyper-connected state with the digital world but a disconnect in the human senses, is a big problem. We’ve never been more alone as a society, and that’s mainly because we spend up to four hours on our phones each day.”
the island of love has often been mentioned as part of the problem. Critics of the dating show have pointed out the contestants’ unrepresentative body types, the three suicides that occurred in connection with the show, and the overwhelming scrutiny the contestants face from viewers upon leaving the isolated world of the ‘village. ‘.
When our conversation inevitably turns to the reality show on which alex made his name, he half-smiles as if he’s expected the topic to come up and braced himself. but there is a weariness beneath his expression. Despite all the work he does for young people, his reality TV stint continues to haunt him. Wherever he goes, he is first met by young people as a former islander, including the Cambridge Syndicate.
“We have never been more alone as a society”
However, he patiently responds with an honest reflection: “I trained really hard to get in shape on the island of love, I was part of the whole problem and since then I realized that it made me feel terrible. I was very critical of my own body, I cut myself out of social circles, I didn’t want to eat out.”
but dr. Alex characteristically concludes with a positive, activist outlook. “As humans, we learn and develop, and I look back and I think that’s probably not the way humans should present themselves. That’s why, as part of itv’s mental health campaign, I work with them and see how we can make it more representative in terms of origin, ethnicity and obviously body type.”
without a doubt, dr. alex george has accomplished a lot in the four short years since his time in the village. he tells the youngsters to be just as ambitious. For those who want to support his campaign, Alex recommends “write to your local MP, share the work I’m doing, use his voice on social media.”
“Ultimately, the reason I ended up in this position wasn’t just because of my fans, but because of everyone sharing it and amplifying that noise and making it happen, because of that.”