England tar Beth Mead open up on ‘very dark moment’ during mental health battle

Beth Mead of Arsenal during the Barclays Womens Super League match (Getty Images)

England star Beth Mead admits she went through some “very dark moments” after contending with both the loss of her Mum and a serious knee injury this year.

The Lionesses forward sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last November, ultimately ending hopes of starring at the Women’s World Cup last summer and leaving her sidelined for 330 days before featuring in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa last month.

The long journey back to fitness was made more difficult when Mead’s Mum June died in January after “a long and brave battle with ovarian cancer,” with injury denying her an “escape” and her “happy place” to cope with her grief.

But now Mead is leading Common Goal’s initiative Create the Space alongside Ben Chilwell, Molly Bartrip, Vivianne Miedema, Marvin Sordell, Naomi Girma, Sergio Oliveira, Alex Remirand and other players. The campaign looks to help the deepening mental health crisis in football and society and equip those in the sport with knowledge, skills and resources to better understand, prevent and deal with mental health issues.

Mead said: “In January I lost my Mum and because of the injury I couldn’t play football, which was always my escape, my happy place. Moments when people thought I was fine because of my outgoing personality, were very dark.

“It’s been a tough process to understand. Teammates, people at the club, family and friends that supported me were so important, without them I could have been in a far darker place. I want to help create an environment in which it’s totally normal to address mental health.

“There’s not a perfect way of dealing with it, but if you feel you’re not alone it helps so much. We need to normalise mental health and in doing so that would go a long way.”

Through Create the Space, Common Goal aims to develop a holistic approach involving the whole football ecosystem, from the elite game to the grassroots, where everyone feels encouraged and comfortable to express themselves both on and off the pitch.

Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has discussed his own battle with mental health (REUTERS)

Chelsea vice-captain Chilwell has also opened up on his own mental health struggles and emphasised the need for a more obvious support system.

“I have had my own mental health journey and I felt unsure about where to turn to for support,” said the England left-back. “It’s down to our generation to change this and ensure that throughout football, all the way from the elite level to young people in community organisations, we have each other’s backs and we’re equipped with the tools to help ourselves and those around us.

“We need to move from talking about mental health to taking action, and Create the Space provides the platform for everyone wishing to take action to play a role in tackling mental health issues, whether they are playing in the Premier league, in the playground, or in the park.”

Find out more about Common Goal’s Create the Spacehere