The Spinoff’s in-house therapist Ms X returns after reading a concerning article about The Bachelor NZ contestant Claudia Hoskins.
On Sunday morning, a reality TV article filed under the Entertainment section of the Herald caused me to fire off more “wtf” texts than I usually do. The Herald quoted a Woman’s Day article in which The Bachelor NZ contestant Claudia talks very frankly about a past relationship that went tits-up when she found out her partner was cheating on her.
Claudia talks so frankly and openly (something I believe is generally a good thing to help destigmatise mental health issues) that I learned all about how she had driven her car into a pole, momentarily not seeing a way through after discovering that her partner had cheated on her. She received extensive injuries – 19 broken bones, a punctured lung and damage to her spleen and liver – and spent two weeks in hospital.
Next I learned what her mental health diagnosis was and about her subsequent treatment. “We discovered that relationships are a real trigger for me,” said Claudia, “and typically I either feel really strong love or really intense sadness.”At that I personally felt triggered enough to send an evacuation chopper to get Claudia the fuck out of whatever tea light-decorated prison she is currently being detained in probably just north of Albany.
Just as I was about to dial emergency services and scream “RED ROSE DOWN” I read that Claudia has “started learning dialectal behaviour therapy, which teaches you to take control of your thoughts and emotions, and in turn make rational responses…I now know I have the tools to handle another situation like that a lot better.”
This was a relief because, as a therapist and as an oxygen-dependant human shaped mammal, I felt like I had stopped breathing for the previous 200 words. But as I lie here taking deep breaths in an effort to stop myself completely freaking the fuck out, what I really need to know is this: did MediaWorks and Warner Brothers do due diligence on Claudia’s ongoing mental health?
To be clear: as I’m not Claudia’s therapist I don’t want to make an armchair diagnosis as to whether she should have been allowed to appear on the show. But I do want to know specific things, namely what support is available to her? And I don’t mean Spanx in this case. I mean hot and cold running therapy.
Because, in related news, on Friday we read that last year’s Bachelor Jordan felt burned and manipulated (that’s something of an understatement: he basically sounds like he got all the TV STDS and no antibiotics) by the producers – and this was someone who had worked in the TV industry before. Jordan actually received death threats from grandmothers (Spoiler: not his own)
If Jordan, who as the ‘star’ should have been afforded more choices than most, felt like he got roasted and toasted by the whole experience, then where does that leave Claudia? Please let someone with actual clinical experience, about five litres of Rescue Remedy and a Warner Bros business card assure me that she is going to be left relatively unscathed by whatever happens next.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that having a mental health episode should naturally exclude you from the abundant opportunities – both good and bad – offered by an appearance on reality TV. The good stuff being a tooth whitening commercial and the bad being JayJay and Dom, obviously.
Many of us will experience depression or anxiety or some kind of mental health issue during our lifetime, as The Bachelor Zac Franich himself admitted to on the show. And if not us, then someone close to us will. I do think if we talked about our mental and emotional health in much the same way we discussed diabetes it would be better across the board, but I have some specific concerns about Claudia’s situation.
Specifically, are the producers recognising their duty of care in relation to her? Because Claudia has been pretty upfront about her past experiences, and I don’t know if I would have been as candid. There is just something in the whole situation that makes me feel worried. Worried as a therapist and worried as a viewer.
A spokesperson from the network responds:
Like all contestants, Claudia underwent comprehensive screening with a psychologist before she was able to participate on the show, and all parties agreed Claudia was fine to participate. Both the network and production take duty of care very seriously. If at any stage there are concerns about the physical or mental health of a contestant the appropriate measures are taken. The support of a psychologist is available to all contestants during production and while the show is on air.
Ms X responds to the network:
Where to get help:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 – this service is staffed 24/7 by trained counsellors
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. Text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
0800 WHATSUP (0800 9428 787) – Open between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.
Healthline – 0800 611 116
For more information about support and services available to you, contact the Mental Health Foundation’s free Resource and Information Service on 09 623 4812 during office hours or email email@example.com
The Bachelor NZ airs Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 7.30pm on Three