She burst onto our screens as the hilarious, twenty-something-year-old on Gogglebox, who had viewers at home in stitches while always having a giggle with her family. But Scarlett Moffatt's journey with mental health hasn't been a straightforward one.
After being crowned the Queen of the Jungle in 2016 when she should have been riding high from her I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! triumph, Scarlett found that life in the spotlight wasn't as rosy as she'd thought.
"I suddenly felt as if there was a magnifying glass on me and everyone in the UK had an opinion of me," Scarlett tells HELLO! as she poses for our Mental Health Digital Cover as our guest editor to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. "Everything I did, I felt like it was criticised, and I didn't quite feel like I was getting anything right."
Scarlett Moffatt stars on our Mental Health Digital Cover
This added level of fame negatively impacted Scarlett's mental health, to the point that she couldn't leave the house for days and pretended to friends and family she was at work. It was then that she bravely decided to call the Samaritans, a charity of which she is now a proud ambassador for.
In our exclusive chat, Scarlett opens up about her mental health reaching breaking point, how it's possible to come full circle, and how boyfriend Scott has given her faith in love again. "Believe me, I've been in a place where I've felt like I just wanted to disappear for a little while and come back when things had calmed down," she says. "But life can be a wonderful place."
Scarlett has guest-edited our Mental Health digital issue. Dress by Selkie at Hurr
Scarlett, thank you so much for being our guest editor. What made you want to guest-edit our Mental Health Digital Issue?
"I love HELLO!, it's so prestigious and everyone knows the publication. It was super flattering to be asked so thank you! I'm an ambassador for the Samaritans charity and mental health is something that's really close to my heart, especially speaking openly about it because I think that's the only way the stigma around it will be broken down. When I have been in times of crises, it's reading and hearing other people's stories that makes me feel not alone."
Have you found that you were always in tune with your mental health or was there a tuning point?
"I'm a nineties baby and I think it was something that we never really learnt about in school. It was something that I'd never really thought about. If I had a down day, I just assumed that that was just me feeling that way. None of us spoke out in a friendship group about how we were feeling, but luckily that's completely changed.
"But I think for me, after I did I'm a Celebrity which catapulted me into this weird world of being known and people having an opinion on me that they hadn't really had before, I suddenly felt as if there was a magnifying glass on me. Everything I did, I felt like it was criticised, and I didn't quite feel like I was getting anything right. I'd moved to London and felt like I didn't quite fit in because everybody was in the showbiz world and I didn't really feel a part of that. But then equally, when I went home, I felt like I didn't have the same issues that my friends and family had."
Her mental health suffered after she was thrust in the spotlight post I'm a Celebrity
How did winning I'm a Celebrity affect your mental health?
"Because I'd just won a show that was really well perceived by everyone and I was so grateful for it, everyone thought I was living the dream and I didn't want to shatter that illusion. I felt like, 'What's wrong with me? Why can't I just enjoy this moment?'
"It felt like everyone – it wasn't – but it felt like the whole of the UK had an opinion about me. I became very, very anxious and I remember cancelling a couple of bits of work because I didn't want to hear what people had to say and I felt like I was cheating at the job. 'How did I manage to get this job on TV?'
"I didn't leave the house for three days. I remember walking to the front door and going to open it and my body just not letting me. I didn't want to speak to my friends and family because I didn't want to burden them because they all thought I was living the high life in London."
Is that when you first decided to reach out to the Samaritans?
"It was at that point that I rang the Samaritans. I gave this pseudonym of the name Charlotte Muffin, which has now become my nickname. And that was the turning point for me, actually getting all of my feelings out and feeling like I wasn't being judged and I could admit that I wasn't in a great place. I then slept for the first time in quite a while.
"The next day, I called the Samaritans again, chatted some more, and that gave me the confidence to then openly start the conversation with my Mum and Dad, and then I went to the GP. From there, it did get better quite quickly. I still have hard days now, but I wouldn't say they last a full day, whereas before it would consume me for maybe a week. Now, it's half an hour, and I have things in place where I can jump back up and be myself.
"That's what I want to get across to people. It can feel like it's never-ending, that you're in a circle, but as soon as you speak out and start to get help, it's a massive weight off your shoulders. It's a work in progress. It's fine to accept that some days aren't as great as others. If all I've managed to do some days is get out of bed and brush my teeth, then that's fine. Sometimes we need a reset day."
The TV star turned to the Samaritans for help, a charity for which she's an ambassador. Dress by Molby The Label and earrings by Laurence Coste
What was that first call to the Samaritans like?
"I did ring a few times and hang up. I've spoken to a lot of people who have called the Samaritans and you do think, 'Is it worthwhile calling?' But that's the great thing about the charity. They're not just there in times of a massive crisis, they are there to try and prevent the crisis from happening. No matter how small or big your problem is, they're there to listen so you're not alone.
"I still remember the woman's voice when I called. She made me feel like I was very brave and let me give myself a bit of credit. It's hard to tell people to just make the call, because that can be the scariest thing, but there's no judgment at all. I found it easier to call the Samaritans than speak to friends and family. They give you a lot of tips on how to approach the conversation with your loved ones too."
"If I got really badly trolled or there was a bad article, it would eat me up for days," says Scarlett. Dress by River Island
What did you speak about in that first conversation?
"I just said I wasn't really feeling myself and I felt like I couldn't do anything right and I didn't know how to change that. It's not like they give you steps to follow, but it was just nice to not feel judged and to let it all out. Because we mull over things in our mind, sometimes it's good just to say it out loud.
"Now I encourage my family and friends, especially if I notice them being a little bit more quiet than usual, if they're showing signs that they're not great, I'll ask them if they're ok and then I'll ask them again to the point where I'm probably annoying them. But that normally opens the conversation.
"I think my first phone call with them was around half an hour. They gave me the courage to ring again and sometimes I think we feel embarrassed about feeling a certain way when we shouldn't at all. And our friends and family don't want us to feel like that. Sometimes we feel like we don't want to burden anybody but I think your loved ones would be more upset with the fact that you haven't asked for help. There's nothing embarrassing about asking for help."
"Life can be a wonderful place," she says
Did you never feel the pressures of fame or that your mental health suffered while you were on Gogglebox?
"Looking back, I probably was a bit more anxious than I used to be. But to be honest, I lived in my village and Gogglebox was a bit of fun really. I did it to spend time with my family and get a free takeaway! There wasn't a lot of pressure. I was never somebody who read tweets. It was only after I'm a Celebrity. I think Gogglebox is one of those rare shows where people watched it, but it wasn't on the front of magazines or newspapers and so I didn't ever see a headline about myself. But then when you start to see headlines about yourself, that's when it felt quite scary."
You were in your early twenties when Gogglebox started. Do you find that you've developed a thicker skin since then?
"Unfortunately, I've had to, which is quite a sad thing really. But I feel like now, because I'm in a good place and I have the tools to help me, I don't really get affected by what people say. I did used to. If I got really badly trolled or there was a bad article, it would eat me up for days.
"I remember seeing loads of articles and comments about my nose – 'a rhinoplasty surgeon says Scarlett's gone too far.' But this is just the nose I was born with! And even if I had had surgery, it's my body. I remember researching surgery and ways to have a bigger nose, which is so sad, because that was always something that I loved about myself. Now I feel like I'm getting back to a place where I actually look in the mirror – not every day – and think, 'Oh yeah, you look quite cute today.' Which is good. I think I've heard every insult that many times that I'm like, 'Oh yeah, sure.'
"I think the big one for me is that people seem to have this obsession with weight and they'll comment saying I've got bigger. And I'm like, 'Yes, I own a mirror. Oh, is that why my jeans don't fit?' Sometimes it's so frustrating. Surely you must understand I can see my own body!
"That's not saying I'm not open to criticism because if it was something about a show that I was doing or my presenting style or my podcast, I'd be quite happy with taking criticism. But when it's something that is out of my control, and it's the way that I look, I think, we don't have to be nasty."
Scarlett was badly trolled at one point for her appearance. Shirt and jeans by River Island
Do you find that being in the public eye has made it harder to trust people? Are you the same person you'd be if you weren't a celebrity?
"I suppose hindsight's a wonderful thing. I don't really know. I don't really think I've changed that much and actually, I have got quite a small circle and they're all people that I was friends with from before I was on TV. I've also got a handful of people that I've met who I can really trust since I've been on TV. I think you've got to trust people because otherwise, you'll just be forever looking over your shoulder. I try and see the good in people."
Looking back, would you ever swap having good mental health for life in the public eye?
"I think they can both work together. I think it's just taken me a little while to get there. That's why I'm pleased that there's more things in place for people who do go on reality shows. I think we need to make sure that there's always somebody that people can talk to because luckily for me when I did I'm a Celebrity, there was the option of speaking to counsellors and I remember at the time thinking, 'I'm not going to need that.' Fame is such a weird world but poor mental health doesn't just affect people who are on the TV. It's everyone unfortunately, especially after the pandemic."
How are you feeling now? Are you in a good place?
"I feel big-headed saying this, but I am the happiest I've ever been. And I hope that that shows people that it can come full circle. The fact that I was so low that I didn't leave the house for days and had to cancel work and pretend to my family that I was at work and I called Samaritans, and now I'm an ambassador for Samaritans… things can change. Even though it might not be an overnight change, it can get better and that's what I want to stress so much. Believe me, I've been in a place where I've felt like, not that I want to be gone forever, but that I just wanted to disappear for a little while and come back when things had calmed down. But life can be a wonderful place."
"I am the happiest I've ever been," she admits
How did your parents react to you admitting that you weren't in a good place after I'm a Celebrity?
"They were really proud that I'd asked for help, because it can be quite a hard thing to do. They were really pleased that I finally had the confidence to talk about it so that I could get better. They just wanted me to be happy. I think I was also a person who would pretend on social media that things were great whereas now I show the good, the bad, and the ugly."
How supportive has your boyfriend Scott been of your mental health? Can he tell when you're about to be triggered into having a low day?
"I'll just say to him, 'I'm not feeling great today.' I think especially because of his job, he's well-equipped and can instantly make me feel better. But I think the reason why me and Scott work is because just before I met him, I got myself into a good place. If I hadn't had done that for myself and if I wasn't so happy with being on my own, we probably wouldn't be the couple that we are now. We just support each other which is how it should be. Before, I wasn't the luckiest in love. But I've got faith in love now thanks to Scott."
Scarlett believes her school bullying experience has made her a kinder person
Can you describe a time when Scott has most helped you?
"Just every day really. He'll be properly big-headed now when he reads this! But he is such a kind person. When we're younger, we have these ideals of what we want in a partner. But I think the most important thing is finding someone who's kind. And that's what he is. We just have a laugh. And because he has his own career, we have a lot to chat about and we just love life together. We're very different but we have common interests so that helps as well."
Your sister is turning 16. Do you ever worry about how social media and trolling could affect her or her generation?
"She doesn't really use social media. She's very unapologetically herself. She's very intelligent and mature for her age. She and her friends aren't really into it which I am pleased about because I wouldn't want her to conform to what society says that you should look like, or what materialistic things you should have. I try and project to her that you should enjoy your actual life rather than make it look to other people that you're enjoying life.
"I actually hate the word trolling because it makes people sound like these mythical creatures that live under a bridge when, in reality, it is just a person. I actually message trolls with the number for Samaritans, because I just think they can't be happy in themselves. I've never been in a position where I wanted to project that much hate on somebody or make them feel bad about themselves. And 99.9 per cent of the time when I do message a troll and ask them if they're ok, they say, 'I'm so sorry. I'm not.' They're just not in a happy place. I think there should be help out there for people who troll because I do just feel sorry for them."
"I actually hate the word trolling because it makes people sound like these mythical creatures," she says
You've been open before about being bullied at school. What message do you have for younger Scarlett?
"I always say this quote that my dad always used to say to me. 'Bullies are like sandpaper, the more they wear you down, the more polished you become.' And I think that's really true. If anything, being bullied taught me never to make anybody else feel sad or bad about themselves. So I do think my experience with bullying made me a kinder person.
"It's easy to say when you're older, but when you're younger, all you have is school and you're desperately trying to fit in and find a friendship group. It's only when I look back now at the people who bullied me that I realise they must have been going through things themselves. I feel like I've forgiven them because I was probably just an easy target."
Photography by Liz McAulay.
Styling by Gayle Rinkoff.
Hair and makeup by Brad Coglan.
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