X Factor causes mental health problems

Well I can’t say that I’m surprised. I always come away from the bits I have seen of it  emotionally scarred.

But then I read that it wasn’t me that was of concern but rather the contestants. Is this, I wondered, because other than Leona Lewis no-one remembers who has ever won one? Indeed how many can, without googling, give the winners (and runners up) of the past three seasons. Thought so.

But no. It was that, according to the Telegraph

The chief executive of Sane, the mental health charity, says the talent show created by Simon Cowell is “playing fast and loose with people’s minds”.

The key issue that Marjorie Wallace identifies is that it can cause real and lasting distress to people who are ridiculed by the judges. She goes on to say

“Producers need to take responsibility for the potential consequences,” says Wallace. “Things known to precipitate mental illness are feelings of failure to meet expectations of ourselves and others, and social rejection. It can be a trigger to potentially depressive illnesses. The public has a role to play and is slowly realising that it also demeans the spectator.”

Now I couldn’t agree more; though I am not sure about the sanity of the Telegraph who a propos of nothing have to put in, unless they see this as a mental health issue

Wallace, a sometime companion of the Earl of Snowdon

I have always hated X Factor and especially when they allow people who are clearly not good enough to sing. These can be some of the most popular clips on Youtube but it also has echoes of bullying. Another website, Unreality TV, further states

Wallace was particularly concerned by the audition of Ceri Rees on a recent episode of the ITV show. The 54 year old hopeful was seen making her fourth attempt on the show and was mocked for her tuneless singing and strange behaviour. It later emerged that a family friend had [previously called producers and begged them not to allow Ceri to try out for the show.

There are pre-auditions for those auditioning on X Factor and many don’t even make it onto the stage. The fact that people who have no chance whatsoever are then allowed onto the auditioning stage shows that it is deliberate humiliation and bullying.

The sad thing is that we, the public, watch this rubbish and we collude with it. We allow this “karaoke coliseum”, as Damon Albarn put it. What makes that so accurate is how on Youtube the thumbs up and down are given to the extracts. When we watch someone who shouldn’t be on there and “enjoy it” we are colluding with bullying.


10 comments on “X Factor causes mental health problems

  1. joan Hadlow
    September 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Here here.

  2. johnm55
    September 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I’ve never seen the attraction in watching semi-talented teenagers being encouraged to murder classic songs.
    I hadn’t really thought about the effects on the people rejected by the show, just the effects on my own sanity,

    Wallace, a sometime companion of the Earl of Snowdon

    mild but fairly typical Telegraph ad hominem

  3. Will Cookson
    September 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm #


    That’s one of the key critiques of people like Sting, that X Factor takes away any idea of originality and that they have to
    X Factor encouraged contestants to “conform to stereotypes”.

    He added: “They are either Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Boyzone and are not encouraged to create any real unique signature or fingerprint.”

    I think he’s absolutely right.

  4. Angela Baker
    September 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I heard a comment recently that perhaps the X Factor judges might be, in fact, listening for an unusual voice/someone with exceptional charisma, maybe, rather than good singing ability.
    I feel that the X Factor has nothing to do with vocal talent & everything to do with publicity…with a few exceptions like Leona Lewis & the brilliant Alexandra Burke. I also note a distinct bias towards under-25s.
    I’m blessed with knowing some great singers, both in my bands & in friends’ bands, none of whom are likely to be ‘gracing’ the X Factor auditions any time soon.

  5. Chris
    October 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Been thinking about the comments about X-Factor and that by the mere fact that by watching X-Factor the viewer is quote “colluding with bullying.”

    Well I never – I am more than surprised to find out that far from being passionate against bullying by watching a simple TV programme I am effectively joining in with bullying.

    So where is the line going to be drawn – if programmes like X-Factor etc are to continue are all contestants going to be asked for a certificate proving that the are of sound mind / able to handle the rejection?

    Are we going to be asked to stop watching crime drama’s for the fear of being informed that we are now “colluding with criminals”

    I could go on – it really wouldn’t take much more of a leap from “colluding with bullies” to joining a Christian church you “collude with the various abuses” that have occurred.

    So finally do I like the X-Factor, funnily enough no not really – but to accuse the 10,000’s that do that they are “colluding with bullies” just goes to show how the Telegraph likes to think of it’s self and it’s readers as a cut above the rest!

    Anyway probably left it to late to comment on this blog for any further debate.


  6. Will Cookson
    October 5, 2011 at 6:48 am #


    Always happy to continue a debate with you. I think that there are two issues here. Firstly, that the programme knowingly allows on people that should not have been allowed on – people who are vulnerable in order to mock them. It is really confined to the audition stage if you like.

    So, people like Ceri Rees who had just been bereaved and couldn’t sing and had been through some auditions to be allowed on the main stage is a disgrace.

    How do we collude? Because without an audience the circus wouldn’t exist! It’s all ratings based.

    In crime drama there is no direct victim, such as Ceri Rees, as they are actors. The issue with some reality TV is that you can easily create real victims and especially when vulnerable members of the public are involved.

    My solution for you? Watch after the audutions!! Or disagree with me!!!

  7. Chris
    October 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Will – so who decides?

    Who is going to make that judgement and say “sorry luv but we think you are to vulnerable to have a moment in a spot light”, perhaps Ceri’s friends and family could have spent more time and effort talking her out of it – but even then assuming that they did, she was still determined to have a go…

    I am always interested in where lines get drawn – and who we expect to “maintain” that line…


  8. Will Cookson
    October 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Actually with X Factor its dead easy. If they aren’t talented don’t let them get through the first 2-3 rounds onto the stage where they are auditioned. Some of the people are so obviously let through because they are so awful. If this is a talent show they should only take the cream of the crop presenting itself.

  9. Susan
    October 6, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    But surely a lot of them really know they are awful and go on such programmes just to get a moment of fame. Most of us will never get to appear on tv, and some people are like toddlers and will want attention whether it its good or bad!

    The first couple of shows are interesting as you see the performers come on and you maybe form judgements based on their look etc, but then they sing and often really surprise you! Sometimes it’s a good surprise and sometimes bad!

    These people are adults and can surely decide for themselves if they can take the public’s opinion of them? I’ve not read any news reports on this Cerys, but she must have been told on previous auditions that she could not sing so it should not come as any surprise to her! She may have even been told this during the early auditions of this series, but still chose to have her moment in front of the judges and live audience.

    Lets not be like the grammer schools picking the cream of the crop knowing the results will be good, instead lets give everyone a chance, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

  10. Will Cookson
    October 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    If you wanted a random selection of people singing so that you don’t get a grammar school selection that might be fair enough. But the only reason some are invited on there is to laugh at them.

    Remember the producers already know how good (or in this case bad) they are. They have already been through several rounds. Some of these vulnerable people are deliberately chosen to be mocked.

    Or what about the case of Lisa Parker who is 17 years old and is punched in the face by her “best friend” Abbey Johnston.Firstly, legally, she is under age and there is a duty of care and the clip should never have been shown.

    Also, there is no chance that a truly bad singer will get through the first round on the stage. The indignity of being laughed at and again in the case of Ceri Rees where there is a risk of mental health issues (pointed out to them before) shows that the reality is that they are using these particular people to laugh at and to demolish. I don’t find that amusing. I think that it is awful. Again they allowed on vulnerable people to be mocked in front of millions and millions of people. I wonder how long it will take them to recover.

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