Jesy Nelson announced Monday that she’ll be departing the “X Factor”-winning pop group Little Mix to focus on her mental health.
Nelson, 29, has been part of the group since the foursome was paired together on the reality series in 2011 after initially auditioning as a solo artist. In a statement posted to her social media accounts, Nelson said her nine years in the group has been “the most incredible time of my life.”
“The truth is recently being in the band has really taken a toll on my mental health,” Nelson wrote. “I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard.”
She told fans that it was time for her to “reinvest” in herself “rather than focussing on making other people happy.” Nelson thanked fans for making her feel like the “luckiest girl in the world” but said that it was time for her to walk away from the group to spend time with the people she loves.
“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,” Nelson said.
Nelson also thanked her fellow band members — Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall — for the “most amazing memories i’ll never forget.”
Little Mix posted a statement to the group’s own social media accounts confirming Nelson’s departure and telling fans that the group will continue to make music as a trio.
“This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy,” the group’s statement said. “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.”
While fans expressed disappointment after Nelson’s announcement Monday, they also offered words of support to the singer for prioritizing her mental health.
“my heart is heavy with saddness but i just know that is better for your mental health,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “thank you for everything.”
Nelson opened up last year in a BBC Three documentary about how online harassment targeted at her degraded her mental health and led her to contemplate suicide. She told the channel that immediately after Little Mix’s "X Factor" win, she received an influx of messages calling her the “the fat, ugly one.”
Nelson told BBC Three that she starved herself and became desperate for approval but soon realized that she wouldn’t win admiration from online trolls. She explained that she became severely depressed and attempted suicide.
“The only way I can describe the pain is like constantly being heartbroken,” Nelson said.
After Nelson began to recover and feel stronger, she said that she wanted to make the documentary to “make something good” come from her experience.
“I’ve got this huge platform – why would I not use that to raise awareness of how social media is affecting people?”