Being a “Big Brother” houseguest is no doubt emotionally taxing.
Contestants are cut off from everything in the outside world, including their friends and family, and their every word and move is filmed and broadcast either online or on national television. One “Big Brother” alum recently revealed that CBS paid for him to go to therapy after his stint on “Big Brother: All Stars” in 2020.
“I’m 99% sure it’s because I was such an emotional mess last year on Big Brother, but CBS has provided me therapy for the past year,” Kevin Campbell of “Big Brother 22” tweeted. He added that his last free session will be Monday, November 1. “First time I played, they were like GOODLUCK! This time they really looked out for me,” Campbell wrote. Campbell previously competed on “Big Brother 11” in 2009.
It seems that Rachel Swindler, who appeared on “Big Brother 20” in 2018, did not get the same treatment. “I’m glad they did that, I wish they would have offered that to our cast,” she said in a reply to Campbell’s tweet. “Gurl it prolly was just me then? They were like “damn we broke him,” Campbell replied to Swindler.
Another Twitter user then responded, stating “I could have sworn one of the cast on 23 said on feeds they will be offered a year of therapy.” Swindler replied that she thinks this became common practice during season 21 in 2019.
‘Big Brother’ Has a Therapist on Call During the Show
According to an E! News article from 2019, a therapist is on call 24/7 for “Big Brother” houseguests. The therapist also helps screen potential contestants for psychological issues during the casting process and meets with each houseguest after they are evicted.
The CBS eligibility requirements for “Big Brother” contestants state that players “must be in excellent physical and mental health.” How does CBS determine whether a potential houseguest is in “excellent mental health?” One method used is emotional intelligence testing.
Clinical psychologist Steven Stein has developed a number of these tests, adapting them for different reality television programs. In 2019, Stein told Variety, “we usually tailor the tests to the show in terms of what they’re looking for. Some shows like ‘Big Brother’ rely a lot on social and interpersonal skills. Other shows sometimes require stamina and managing stress, and so we focus on those areas.”
Stein added, “the first and most important thing we always do is a mental-health screening because we want to make sure that it’s safe. That the person is not going to be self-injurious or aggressive. That there are no real addiction problems. No sort of borderline personalities.”
Brie Rosenfield, another clinical psychologist who consults on various reality TV programs, works mainly with contestants following their stint on television. She told Variety that in her experience, productions offer contestants up to three follow-up therapy sessions after leaving the show.
“Unfortunately we are paying for the mistakes of our past and in order to be legally and financially responsible, you really have no choice but to support these contestants so that you don’t have a tragedy,” Rosenfield said.