Zara took part in the second series of the show, famously losing her Miss GB pageant title when she had sex with a fellow contestant, and has now reflected on her experiences on ‘Love Island’ two years on.
Admitting she felt the villa is comparable to a “posh prison” because of how “controlled” the contestants are by producers, Zara told BBC News: “You have two producers that do live with you in the villa 24/7, so every day we would have talks with them… and then they might say to you, right Zara so now can you go and sit by the pool, we’re going to send so and so over and this is what we want you to talk about.
“It was so controlled in there that you got told when to go to bed, when to wake up, when dinner was.”
She also claimed that women on the show “have to” wear make-up, and commented that as someone who was neither in a couple nor a smoker, she often felt left out and “lonely”.
“I was just not the same girl that I was [after ‘Love Island’],” Zara added. “I would be so upset all the time, I’d be tired, it was really hard, really hard.
“I would really torture myself sometimes, I would go searching and looking for those negative comments, they would go from death threats to people wishing you were dead.”
Zara notes that she has been seeing a psychiatrist since January, acknowledging that while Islanders are offered help from a psychiatrist on the show, they were required to ask if they wanted to speak to a mental health professional, rather than having it offered to them.
In response to this, a ‘Love Island’ spokesperson responded: “All our Islanders are offered psychological support before, during and after their time in the villa.
“We take our duty of care very seriously and this is always our top priority. We discuss with Islanders, before and after the show, how their lives might change and the difficulties they might face.”
A representative added to HuffPost UK: ”We direct [Islanders] towards taking on professional representation after the villa, and help them through this process, so that they have experienced help as they face those pressures.
“Zara already had management before and after she left the villa and we were in constant contact with her representation throughout the process Members of the Production team maintained contact with her in the months after she left the villa.”
Cally-Jane said: “These reality shows are great but when you come out it can be difficult for some people.
“Some people don’t know how to deal with it, other people are cool with it. Some people come out to being liked, some people come out to being hated. I think there needs to be more aftercare.”
Meanwhile, former contestants like Chris Hughes, Olivia Attwood and Tom Powell - who was partnered with Sophie during her time on the show’s second series - have all spoken favourably about the care they received both before and after ‘Love Island’.
Tom has previously said: “The show was crazy. But they took care of us. Anyone who says otherwise is talking bullshit.
“After you leave the show you speak to the psychologist and you were always checking in with her. We had a lot of care after the show. They took great care of us.”