Jesy Nelson has quit Little Mix, the UK pop quartet who have topped the British singles chart four times since forming on The X Factor in 2011.
Announcing the decision on Instagram, Nelson thanked her bandmates and their fans, and described her time with the group as “the most incredible time of my life”. She added:
The truth is recently being in the band has really taken a toll on my mental health. I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard. There comes a time in life when we need to reinvest in taking care of ourselves rather than focussing on making other people happy, and I feel like now is the time to begin that process.
She said she needed to “spend some time with the people I love, doing things that make me happy. I’m ready to embark on a new chapter in my life – I’m not sure what it’s going to look like right now, but I hope you’ll still be there to support me”.
A statement on the group’s Twitter page, signed by the remaining three members Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards, reads:
This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy. We love her very much and agree that it is so important that she does what is right for her mental health and well-being. We are still very much enjoying our Little Mix journey and the 3 of us are not ready for it to be over. We know that Jesy leaving the group is going to be really upsetting news for our fans. We love you guys so much and are so grateful for your loyalty and continued support of all of us. We’re looking forward to seeing so many of you on tour.
Nelson’s decision comes a month after she took time off from the group, citing “private medical reasons”.
The singer has spoken frankly about her mental health difficulties in the past, including in the BBC documentary Odd One Out. She has suffered from depression and disordered eating, and has been frequently targeted in online abuse.
Speaking to the Guardian in September 2019, she said: “I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself. I’d type in the search bar: ‘Jesy fat’, or ‘Jesy ugly’, and see what would come up. Sometimes I didn’t even need to do that, I’d just write ‘Jesy’ and then I’d see all the horrible things. Everyone told me to ignore it – but it was like an addiction.” Eventually, she said, “I felt that I physically couldn’t tolerate the pain any more,” and subsequently attempted suicide. She has credited support from family and friends, as well as therapy, as having helped her since.
Little Mix, briefly named Rhythmix when they were assembled in the early stages of The X Factor, are one of the most successful graduates of the reality TV show. Their first two singles Cannonball and Wings both topped the charts in 2011, with debut album DNA reaching No 3. They returned to the top of the charts in 2015 with Black Magic, and went on to collaborate with stars including Nicki Minaj and Jason Derulo. They have been nominated for nine Brit awards, winning two.
Their most recent album, Confetti, released in November, became their sixth top 5 LP in a row. The group also recently presented their own reality show, Little Mix: The Search, though Nelson did not appear in the final episode, nor the group’s recent appearances on Children in Need and the MTV Europe Music awards.
• In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.