The news recently broke that Dr Alex George, who became a household name after appearing on ITV’s Love Island in 2018, has been appointed as a ‘Young Mental Health Ambassador’. Dr Alex has been given this position by the Prime Minister himself as a result of his constant campaigning and advice regarding mental health during the pandemic. This comes after his younger brother lost his life to mental health last year.
The primary focus of this new role is to help shape mental health policies in schools, colleges and universities across the United Kingdom. On his Instagram account with 1.8m followers, Dr Alex described himself as “humbled” by the opportunity. He stated the importance of doing “everything in our power to bring meaningful change”, as he emphasised his passion for this issue and desire to raise awareness and engage the public with his mission.
The response of the media, as well as the public, has been adoring and issued vast amounts of praise for the young Doctor’s achievements. Many felt that action of this kind was well overdue, with Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner warning that our mental health service does not have the capacity to deal with increasing issues as a result of the pandemic.
We have seen the overwhelming positive response all over social media as people have compared the work of Dr Alex with their disapproval for the many influencers abusing Covid restrictions and travelling abroad. Many have called out these influencers, several of whom also featured on Love Island alongside Dr Alex. The media has been saturated with influencers holidaying in Dubai, amongst other locations, despite the government’s ‘stay at home advice’. They have been described as shameless, tone-deaf and inconsiderate, as they promote parties and fill up our feeds with bikini pictures and videos from beach clubs.
Many of these so-called ‘influencers’ have defended their actions claiming it is essential for their business. Fitness influencer Sheridan Mordew claimed her trip was “essential” as she was slammed by Holly Willoughby on This Morning for acting “not in the spirit of lockdown”. As discontent with these influencers spreads rapidly across social media, many have compared their actions to that of Dr Alex.
The admirable actions of Dr. Alex George have provided a stark contrast to the reprehensible actions of these influencers who claim that partying during a pandemic is essential to their branding. It calls into question the responsibility these social media influencers hold. These individuals become role models for young people so we have to hold them accountable. We should show our appreciation for the commendable work of Dr Alex. But we should also question the influencers who misuse their platform and represent poor examples of behaviour.
Dr. Alex George is redefining what an influencer should be. In his role as an ambassador for mental health, he represents proactivity and positive change. He is well deserving of his platform and shows what an influencer really can do. I think the world would be a much better place if all influencers looked like this.