LITTLE Mix fans broke down in tears as Jesy Nelson quit the band after nine years.

The 29-year-old star announced the news on her Instagram page today after taking "extended time off" from the group last month.

She told her followers that she was leaving with a "heavy heart" as she reflected on the success the band have enjoyed since winning The X Factor in 2011, insisting it had been the "most incredible time" of her life.

Little Mix has confirmed they will be going ahead with the three remaining members of the band: Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

However, the news has devastated pop fans across the globe and they took to social media to vent their upset.

One person said: "Thank you Jesy for 9 incredible years ! You have given so many of us the confidence to be ourselves and love who we are and never to be ashamed of that. You have taught me to love my body and to always put your mental health first. We love you so so much"

Another added: "Thank you so much Jesy for the 9years you’ve spent in Little Mix. Thank you for the incredible songs, laughs and tears. I write this with a heavy heart. Please respect Jesy’s decision. We love you so so much. I will continue to support you. Love you!"

A third remarked: "i’ve been a fan of #LittleMix for almost 6 years… seeing the news about jesy’s leaving the band, i’m actually crying 😭 but i’m happy that she’s prioritising her well-being, happiness & mental health, that’s the most important thing. thank you for 9 wonderful years Jesy!"

Influencer James Charles also spoke out, simply exclaiming: "NOO WHAT"

This comes after Jesy's announcement that she is quitting the super popular band for mental health reasons.

She said in the statement: "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."

Jesy added: "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."

The star went on to thank her bandmates Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards, and Jade Thirlwall, writing: "Most of all I want to say thank you to Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne for creating some of the most amazing memories I'll never forget.

"I hope that you'll continue to fulfil all of your dreams and keep making music that people love."

Little Mix responded to the statement on Twitter, sharing their sadness at Jesy's decision – but insisting they understood and supported her choice.

They wrote: "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.

"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."

In November, a Little Mix rep confirmed that Jesy was taking "extended time off" for "private medical reasons".

It came two weeks after she missed the grand finale of the band's TV talent show The Search, as well as their high-profile stint hosting the MTV EMAs.

The Sun then revealed that Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne are going solo – with each involved in secret plans to launch individual careers next year at the end of their existing deal.

However, Jade has insisted the group "will never die" even if the girls do end up branching out.

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