Singer Jesy Nelson has thanked fans as she explained her decision to leave Little Mix, saying “recently being in the band has really taken a toll on my mental health”.
Nelson, 29, is stepping away after being a part of the group for nine years and said in a long Instagram post that it had been “the most incredible time of of my life”.
The band – Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards – also announced the news in a string of tweets.
Nelson’s Instagram post said: “To all my Mixers, The past nine years in Little Mix has been the most incredible time of my life.
“We have achieved things I never thought possible. From winning our first Brit Award to our sold out shows at the 02. Making friends and fans all over the world I can’t thank you all enough from the bottom of my heart for making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
“You have always been there to support and encourage me and I will never ever forget it. 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.
“So after much consideration and with a heavy heart, I’m announcing I’m leaving Little Mix.
“I need 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 tweet from the band said: "After an amazing 9 years together Jesy has made the decision to leave Little Mix. This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy."
In a string of tweets, the girl band, who found fame on The X Factor, 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. 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. Love always, Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne xxx."
The news follows an announcement in November that Nelson, 29, would be taking an "extended" break for private medical reasons.
Nelson had previously been absent from the final of Little Mix's BBC One talent show The Search and also a performance at the MTV European Music Awards.
The band had recently released their sixth studio album titled Confetti, their first since departing Simon Cowell's label Syco.
Little Mix formed on The X Factor in 2011 and have become one of the country's biggest-selling girl bands.
They auditioned on the ITV singing show as soloists, but were then placed into a group by the judges in the show's later stages.
Nelson has previously spoken openly about her battle with anxiety and previously revealed in a BBC documentary called Odd One Out that abuse on social media got so bad she attempted to take her own life.
The programme won her the award for best factual entertainment at the 2020 National Television Awards.
The band are scheduled to embark on a UK tour next year.