I couldn't be prouder of Jesy Nelson for putting her mental health first
When you’re a Little Mix fan, the news that Jesy Nelson is quitting the band is initially a punch to the gut – no fandom wants to lose a key member from the group.
But what Jesy has done – by embracing her own self care and mental health as priorities – is a brave decision and one that a generation of her younger fans can take a lot from.
Little Mix has a range of fans from young to old, but the singers are aware of the children bracket who idolise them and I have no doubt that they were at the forefront of Jesy’s mind when she wrote her emotional statement.
Jesy has been refreshingly open about suffering stress and mental health setbacks in the last year; talking about it in a tone that removes stigma and any feeling of misplaced shame or feelings of weakness.
In any industry, at any time, any of us can burn out and any of us can become overwhelmed when things become too much.
In the music industry, the pressures are huge – not least of all due to the millions of adoring fans who hang off your words, your talent and your appearances at events.
Everything you say becomes a quote and will be deeply analysed to find any secret meaning or twisted message to imply celebrity beef. Any face you pull will forever become a meme or a GIF. Anything you wear could end up on a worst dressed list.
Then there are duties to record companies and all other contractual obligations to always be on point, always be shining and glowing and enthusiastic and always portray behaviour that will ultimately gain positive publicity and sell records and albums.
It’s exhausting just thinking about it. As someone who has depression and anxiety disorders, there were some days I would go into the office, put my headphones in and not even look at or speak to another person. I would avoid lunch so I didn’t have to have human contact.
I went to London to achieve my dreams of becoming a journalist – a bustling city of culture and massive opportunities in this field of work. And I have been very lucky to interview some amazing people, be pampered, fed and watered at the glossiest of events and have many ‘pinch myself’ moments at parties many would only dream of getting a ticket to.
I’m not saying I’m Jesy from Little Mix. But I understand her – and applaud her massively for getting across the message that the showbiz side of things and the money and the parties aren’t enough to make anyone happy. If you are not okay in your own wellbeing, it’s time to take a step back.
We have seen what this industry can do to celebrities, particularly but not exclusively to women. Time and time again we are having to tell each other to be kind and then we forget all over again and the cycle goes on.
By taking control of her own life and focusing on her mental health, Jesy is educating her loyal fans and the rest of us that self care is more important than career or pleasing others.
Life can be a battle and when things snowball out of control, something has to give. Little Mix aren’t going to close the door on their friend if she wants to return in the future and they will be there for her throughout whether she sings with them or not. And the same will be said for the fans she has brought so much delight to over nine years.
When things became too much for me in the claustrophobic city of London – where everything was a crowded rush, finances weren’t great and stress was constant – I agonised over my future. I knew that moving away could impact my career and perhaps put a halt on my climbing the ladder to promotions.
But since relocating somewhere quieter and more serene, I have never felt more healthy in terms of my mind. It was a risk – as is leaving Little Mix – but for me it paid off.
I know Mixers will want Jesy to be happy and healthy long before she ever considers a potential comeback.
She is an absolute role model and a valued spokesperson for mental health and the hero that an extra stressed world needs right now.
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