"Mental health is a part of who we are"

Chelsea and England defender Niamh Charles calls for mental health action in football after joining Common Goal.

Chelsea and England star Niamh Charles has called on the football world to normalise and humanise mental health conversations as she joins a growing number of professional players supporting ‘Create the Space’.   

The 24-year-old has joined Common Goal in support of its mental health movement, a move which has been inspired by her own personal struggles coming as a result of a recurring back injury the defender suffered earlier on in her career. 

Her motivation to help comes at a time where Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries are prominent in the women’s game, with club teammates Sam Kerr and Mia Fishel having had their seasons ended with the injury during the early months of 2024. 

“Long before ACLs became a hot topic, long-term injuries started my journey with mental health,” Charles stated. 

“There was a long period of time when I struggled massively and I didn’t know who I was, what I enjoyed doing, and I lost some sense of myself. 

“I’m in a great place now, where I feel I can keep on top of my mental health and I want to make the discussion around the subject more acceptable. 

“Not only do we need to normalise conversations around mental health but we need to humanise it. It’s part of who we are. 

“I wish I'd learned that earlier so I could reap the massive benefits sooner by prioritising it.

"We’re all human at the end of the day and there’s nothing wrong with you if you are struggling with your mental health.” 

Charles has been inspired to join the Common Goal movement following the UK launch of ‘Create the Space’ in November 2023. 

Fellow Chelsea and England left-back Ben Chilwell, as well as international teammate Beth Mead, are among the many high-profile athletes who have joined the collective. 

Several football-based community organisations and stakeholders from within the industry have also signed up for the movement, with the aim of equipping football at all levels with the knowledge, skills and resources to understand, prevent and deal with mental health issues. 

“For a while now I’ve loved the concept of Common Goal and always wanted to join at some point. 

“Seeing the launch of Create the Space aligned perfectly to what I’m passionate about and what I’ve experienced personally. 

“It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself. 

“Everything that Common Goal stands for connects with me.”