Jeff Probst Opens Up About Survivor’s Approach to Mental Health

The host and exec producer shares behind the scenes details.

Photo: CBS

Survivor host and executive producer Jeff Probst has opened up about the show’s approach to mental health and how they deal with a situation like Ben Katzman’s panic attack from the latest episode.

Speaking on the most recent edition of the On Fire podcast, Probst acknowledged that while Survivor is designed to break people down to their core, the players’ mental health is still production’s number one priority.

“We not only have medical doctors on location, we have mental health specialists on location, our psychology team,” Probst said before sharing details on how the team handled Ben’s late-night panic attack.

“In this case, we let our psychologist know what happened, and if there was even a slight concern that Ben was in real trouble, we would intervene in whatever way was most appropriate,” he explained.

As viewers saw in the episode, Ben received support from his fellow tribemates, especially Kenzie Petty, who took him aside and helped calm him down. Probst praised Kenzie and the rest of the Survivor 46 cast for how they dealt with the situation and said something like that might not have happened 15 years ago.

When his co-host Jeff Wolfe asked what the difference is between now and then, Probst stated, “Number one is casting. The types of people we’re putting on the show… a lot of players, and this is not a disrespect, but there are players from fifteen years ago we would not even interview today. They were perfect for that time, but today, we want more emotional depth, that you understand and have compassion for people.”

The Emmy-winning host also cited that Survivor’s storytelling has shifted from a purely game approach to a much more complex and emotionally layered adventure and life experience, as well as the present culture surrounding the show nowadays.

Probst also shared that the show continues to offer support to contestants once filming is over. “I am very proud of our aftercare program for both medical and mental health issues,” he said. “I don’t know if any show in our genre who does what we do, we follow through, and that support continues for as long as a player needs it.”

Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

One response to “Jeff Probst Opens Up About Survivor’s Approach to Mental Health”

  1. Ironic to state they care about mental health when all they do is call one another crazy or insane—just like everyone else. Hypocrisy and human ignorance at its finest!

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