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"People are saying very nasty stuff ... it was really getting us down". The Block's Whitney and Andrew are in counselling.

Image: Channel 9.

UPDATE:

The Block‘s Whitney Nolan and Andrew Simmons have undergone counselling to help them cope with the comments they’ve copped on social media.

“People are saying very nasty stuff. A couple of weeks ago it was really getting us down,” Whitney told News Corp.

“After The Block finishes, Channel 9 offers counselling and we have taken them up on that. It’s a different world. We are just normal people doing this experience. You can never prepare yourself for the things you hear being said about you.”

Although The Block viewers didn’t witness just how much the show impacted on Whitney’s stress levels — she later admitted she’d experienced a panic attack during filming and was almost sent to hospital by the producers — Andrew’s difficulties have been more visible.

The Block Whitney and Andrew
Andrew and Whitney have been open about the show's effect on their wellbeing. (Image: Channel 9)

"Everyone can see that Andrew has really struggled, he wasn't 100 per cent himself. He was just trying to get through each day as it comes, he was struggling a bit with depression," Whitney explained.

"For me, the whole thing just brought us closer together."

Regardless of whether you agree with their decor choices or behaviour on the show, you have to admire the couple for being so open about the show's effect on their wellbeing — and what they're doing to overcome it.

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We previously reported:

Even as a viewer, it's obvious the experience of competing on a reality TV show is an incredibly intense one.

With cameras recording their every move, time restrictions to work against and total separation from their loved ones and the outside world, it's no surprise the stars lose their composure from time to time. However, it seems the stress and emotional toll is greater than we realise.

In a new interview, two stars of The Block have reflected on just how significantly the filming process impacted on their mental wellbeing — and they believe producers need to be mindful of this when casting the roles.

“It is just immense the stress that you’re under," Melbourne's Whitney Nolan, who appears on the latest season of the Channel 9 programme with her partner Andrew Simmons, tells News Corp.

Although reality programs rarely shy away from broadcasting all the dramatic, emotional moments — in fact, their ratings usually thrive on them — Nolan says The Block's viewers didn't witness her lowest moment. "I had a panic attack. The producers were going to send me to hospital because I was having pains in my chest. It wasn’t shown on television," she recalls.

It's been a different story for Simmons, for whom the emotional toll of the competition has been visible.

Simmons during his on-screen breakdown.

In a recent episode, he broke down in tears during a confrontation with the show's foreman Keith and 'foreboy' Dan. As viewers, it was hard to watch someone who was clearly deeply shaken — and it was just as confronting for Nolan.

“Andrew’s a really strong person and I have never seen him like this. It’s hard for me to see that. I don’t like it," she said at the time.

Simmons says the show's pressure-cooker environment takes contestants to their "absolute limit" and can be overwhelming to deal with.

“The pressure comes from everywhere; from within yourself, your expectations, the producers, the lack of sleep, the builders, Keith and Dan. If you could battle them individually, you could do alright. But when they’re coming relentlessly from every single avenue it becomes overwhelming," he tells News Corp. (Post continues after gallery.)

The "scary part", Simmons adds, is that not every aspiring 'Blockhead' would be capable of handling the stress — and he says producers need to keep this front of mind when selecting contestants for future series.

"God knows if they do the wrong casting what could happen,” he says.

Nolan and Simmons aren't the first reality TV contestants to talk about the potential mental and emotional toll of these programmes.

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Last year, Masterchef Australia alumnus Jules Allen admitted her time on the 2013 series of the cooking show left her feeling like "a basket case" — and that the aftermath was even harder to deal with than the actual filming.

Masterchef's Jules Allen struggled with the "ritual humiliation" of the programme. (Image: Channel 10)

"You're encouraged to sort of crack open. The problem is at the end there's no-one there to put you back together," she said in an episode of Australian Story.

"I think it's fair to say most of the contestants I kept in contact with found the hardest thing was the transition back into so-called normal life ... I remember feeling completely alone in that. I was a basket case, really. I had nightmares for weeks."

She added the "ritual humiliation" and sense of failure that accompanied the competition were hard to cope with — especially with the knowledge that she'd signed up for it all.

"In defence of MasterChef, we were told to expect the unexpected, but you can't fathom what that means," she recalled.

"I remember in the first few weeks a few of us referring to the fact that we felt like we were bipolar because of the enormous highs and excruciating lows - and they can all happen three times in a day."

Do you think reality TV shows push their contestants too far?

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