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Jesy Nelson’s decision to quit Little Mix exposes a tough careers problem so many of us face

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Hollie Richardson
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Little Mix's Jesy Nelson

This is the tough lesson we learned from Jesy Nelson’s statement on her difficult decision to leave Little Mix.

Little Mix is one of the most successful groups out there right now. The band, which was first introduced to the world on The X Factor in 2011, has sold over 50 million albums. The quartet has received over 100 award nominations and collected over 40 award wins. And all members have appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List every year since 2017. 

So, to step away from the band must be an incredibly hard and brave decision, but that’s what member Jesy Nelson has just announced she has done. And her reason for quitting is a lesson we can all learn from. 

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“The past nine years in Little Mix has been the most incredible time,” Nelson said in a statement that she shared yesterday (14 December). 

“But the truth is recently being in a band has really taken a toll on my mental health,” she continued. “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 focusing on making other people happy, and I feel like now is the time to begin that process.”

This isn’t the first time Nelson has been incredibly candid with fans about her mental health. 

The singer recently opened up about her struggle with body image in a BBC Three documentary, which exposed the reality of online trolling and comparison culture. 

And in an interview with The Guardian, Nelson revealed how the band’s unrelenting girl power stance led her to feel trapped in her role as a “strong woman” – when, in reality, she was struggling with her mental health.

She also talked about undergoing therapy and her attempted suicide. “I felt that I physically couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore,” she said.

Little Mix
Jesy Nelson has announced she is quitting Little Mix in order to protect her mental health.

With all this in mind, it’s completely understandable why Nelson has made the decision to protect and work on her mental health. 

Her former band members, and friends, shared their supportive response on Twitter, writing: “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.”

But the fact that it’s the right thing to do doesn’t mean that it’s an easy decision to make. However, this sort of choice – between focusing on good mental health or focusing on a good career – is a dilemma for a growing number of people around the world.

In 2017, a Thriving at Work report commissioned by the government, found that around 300,000 people with longterm mental health problems lose their jobs every year. Last year, an American study reported that 50% of millennials and 75% of generation Z quit a job due to issues related to mental health. And during this year’s lockdown, a survey from Nuffield Health found that 80% of UK workers feel working from home has negatively impacted their mental health

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Burnout, anxiety and depression are all common ways that our careers can impact mental health. While not everybody has the option to take time out from their career or leave their job, Nelson’s open decision and honest words are a lesson in prioritising mental health and having discussions about it in the workplace. 

And that is so important during a time when conversations around mental health are more vital than ever. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website or see the NHS  list of mental health helplines and organisations.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…