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Are we still insensitive to mental health issues?

A lot of emphases is made on mental health. Just because a person looks fine does not mean that he or she is not battling their own inner demons. Over the past years, a lot of awareness was raised regarding comments made about mental health, especially insensitive ones which may hurt people who are truly suffering. A recent controversy took place on X-Factor, where a young singer, Johanna Gauci Loporto was criticised for her anxiety fuelled reactions, being accused that it was all drama and an attempt to win over people.

Let’s face it, performing on stage in front of four famous local individuals, on one of the most viewed television programmes in the country is already nerve-racking for a confident singer. Imagine the stress a singer would feel whilst she is having an anxiety attack! One of the judges, Howard Keith Debono made a remark that her reaction could not be ignored and sparked the controversy, where several viewers bashed his behaviour.

People also had a lot to say on social media about this. One particular post was published on the popular Facebook group, “The Salott”. The comment asked a very simple yet pertinent question, as to why such feedback was given to someone who was very clearly suffering from anxiety, in a time where a lot of emphasis is made on annihilating mental health stigma. A number of comments subscribed to this post. 

This case has led to a very interesting debate as to what is the level of criticism that should be communicated in a television show such as X Factor. Should singers simply perform and be given just the indication of whether they would proceed to the next round or not, without any further feedback? Should judges be more aware of how they communicate their feedback? Where does one draw the line? At what point do the comments become inappropriate instead of constructive?

With that said, although she was criticised for her stage fright, she still received four yeses and progressed to the next round. It will be interesting to see how she will react and bounce back in future rounds.

One would also need to mention that we are likely to not have heard all the comments. Such a programme would be heavily edited, with some auditions lasting around half an hour. The viewers only get to see a few minutes.

It is important to highlight that the singers would first need to audition in front of the production team, before proceeding to perform in front of the judges. Didn’t the production team identify the issue at hand? 

What are your views on the comments made by Howard Keith Debono?

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