How Women’s Soccer Is Embracing Mental Health

How Women’s Soccer Is Embracing Mental Health

The best way to do that, Common Goal argues, is through the players. According to the organization’s research, players tend not to turn to family or friends outside soccer for support but to look inward, to their teammates. “It is a way of reclaiming power,” said Barrett-O’Keefe. “It is a way of saying, ‘I can help myself, and I can help my teammates.’”

In the summer of 2022, Farrelly decided to go back to the game. She was not entirely sure she felt ready. She was afraid of any number of things: that she might not be good enough, that she might let herself down, that she might let other people down. “I’m comfortable being small,” she said. “There’s a part of my brain that is there to protect me from being hurt.”

She knew, though, that at 33 she would not have another chance, and so she took the risk. She started training with Gotham F.C. She impressed enough to be given a contract. Within a year, she would be playing in her first World Cup.

It has not been as easy as that timeline makes it sound. Farrelly has never regretted her decision to return to soccer, she said, but there were times when she was “crying every day,” when she was not sure if she could be what she once was, when the highs and the lows threatened to “overwhelm her.”

This time, though, the culture had shifted. At Gotham, she could speak. Not just to her psychologist and her somatic therapist, but to other players. She could speak to her teammates about the fact she was using a psychologist. “I had to open up and be vulnerable,” she said. “At times, that meant having a vulnerability hangover, but I’m grateful for it.”

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Carley Reagan

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