In a candid and brave BBC Three documentary, Jesy opened up about the abuse she suffered at the hands of cyberbullies and the effect this had on her mental health. Speaking in December last year about her decision to leave the band Jesy said: “I had to [leave] for my own mental health, because I really just wasn’t in a good place.” The star released a statement via Instagram at the time, explaining to fans why she was stepping back. She continued: “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.”
After a prolonged break from the industry, Jesy has returned as a solo artist, and her first single – Boyz – features female rapper Nicki Minaj.
Her return to the music immediately received criticism, but the performer hit back explaining that her hiatus was not intended to be forever. Instead it was the pressure of being in a girl band that she wanted to distance herself from.
“For people to think that I would just stop working completely is crazy because me working on my mental health is going to the studio, and creating music that I love. That’s what clears my head and makes me happy. It’s good for my mental health,” she explained.
“I need to do things that make me happy now and people might think that’s selfish but sometimes in life you have to put yourself first, you have to love yourself, you’ve got to do what makes you happy.”
At the height of her music career, with fellow bandmates Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall, Jesy sadly never felt content.
In a heartbreaking interview with Cosmopolitan she revealed that it was mostly due to problems with her weight and comparing herself to the other girls that led to her mental health decline: “I was bigger than the other three, and there’s never really been that in a girl group.
“I was classed as the obese, fat one. I can’t believe how miserable I was.”
Jesy continued to explain that on one occasion she suffered a breakdown on a shoot. Recalling the events Jesy said: “I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself. I looked at the other three and they were having the time of their life. I get so jealous, because I want to feel like that and enjoy it.”
Seeing her daughter’s declining mental health, Jesy’s own mother had begged her to quit the band she was so clearly struggling to be in, way back in 2013.
This reached a sobering climax when Jesy attempted to take her own life. Opening up on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast Jesy said: “I went into hospital and then I had a music video like a week after.
“And obviously my mum found out and she was distraught and she was outright like, ‘This is it, you’re not doing this anymore.’ Because my mum’s the kind of mum that’s like, ‘Jes, we couldn’t give a s*** what you do as long as you’re happy. That’s all I care about.’
“So she was like, ‘No. This isn’t happening anymore. I’m putting my foot down and you’re coming out of this.’”
Although being in Little Mix for another seven years after she was hospitalised, Jesy soon realised that she had been “trying to be happy” for too long.
Mental health includes an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act.
Mental health is also important in maintaining physical health, as things such as stress can increase the risk of life-threatening conditions including diabetes and heart disease.
According to statistics by Mind – a mental health charity – approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem.
More specifically, a report published in 2016 found that 5.9 out of 100 people reported having generalised anxiety disorder and 3.3 in 100 reported having depression.
The NHS explains that the most common psychological symptoms of NHS include:
- Continuous low mood or sadness
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Having low self-esteem
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling guilt-ridden
- Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- Having no motivation or interest in things
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Not getting any enjoyment out of life
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.
In a similar vein, The Mayo Clinic describes that common symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder includes:
- Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events
- Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
- Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
- Difficulty handling uncertainty
- Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
- Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
- Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”.
For confidential 24/7 support in the UK, call Samaritans on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.