Karl Burnett opens up on feeling out of place on 'Celebrity Treasure Island'

Celebrity Treasure Island star Karl Burnett has opened up about his struggle with depression and anxiety which forced him to exit the reality show early this week.

The former Shortland Street favourite appeared on Seven Sharp on Tuesday night, where he admitted to having some "pretty dark thoughts".

He even went so far as to reveal that his six-month-old son Charlie was "pretty much the only thing that sort of kept me from going for a very long swim in the ocean".

Burnett was originally looking forward to getting out of his comfort zone, meeting new people and "hanging out" in Fiji, but his troubles on the island kicked in right at the very start when in the first challenge, his entire team left him tied to a post and ran to the finish line without him.

"I started thinking I'm not really fitting in here," he recalled on Seven Sharp.

"These are people who've won gold medals at the Olympics and done this and done that, and here's me, I'm just an actor."

Things improved after the second challenge in which Burnett's cool head and smarts led his team to victory.

Photo / TVNZ

"That sort of boosted my confidence, and I thought, 'I'm not as useless as I thought,'" Burnett said.

But between feeling out of place, missing his son and some severe sleep deprivation, it all became too much and Burnett announced he was leaving on Monday night's episode - the second episode of the series.

"Basically I just had to leave. I was having some pretty, pretty dark thoughts when I was lying there that night. And thoughts of my son [were] pretty much the only thing that sort of kept me from going for a very long swim in the ocean, I think," he said.

"It's just something that I've had to deal with for... years."

Burnett's fellow co-stars all wished him well and praised him for his decision to leave and put his mental health first.

Photo / TVNZ

Host Matt Chisholm even dropped in at Burnett's home during the Seven Sharp interview to support Burnett, talking about his own struggles.

Chisholm recalled getting to a place where "I found myself reasonably burnt out and depressed as well...it's not a great place to be."

He added: "I just want to get us into a place where [talking about mental health is] not brave, where it's just like, 'mate I've got a sore leg.'"

Burnett himself is now in counselling and says he's doing "pretty good". His advice to viewers? "Talk to someone. And if they don't wanna listen, talk to someone else."

Seven Sharp hosts Jeremy Wells and Hilary Barry praised Burnett's honesty, with Wells saying: "If you're not well you've gotta make yourself well in whatever way you possibly can".

Barry added that Burnett "did the right thing", and said: "good on ya, Karl".


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.