Women's sports: Arsenal’s Emma Mitchell opens up on her struggle with mental wellbeing

Arsenal Women v FC Bayern Munich Women - Emirates Cup

In an incredibly raw and honest interview with the BBC, the Arsenal defender opened up about her struggles across their title-winning season.

While celebrations commenced following they're away win to Brighton – in which three points confirmed the title as theirs – Mitchell found herself crying in the shower while the rest of her teammates popped champagne in the dressing room. 

She recalls how after a specific training session, in which she broke down after getting hit in the face with a ball, she approached manager Joe Montemurro and said, 'I need help'.

The 27-year-old suffered an injury, and with unresolved family issues arising, it was – as she describes it – as though her 'bucket over spilled' and she was forced to confront everything that had been building up over the last year.

Both training and football, in general, acted as an escape for Mitchell – she used it as an emotional release and way to deal with whenever things weren't going well. But when even that stopped working and going to football became daunting, that's when she knew she had to reach out.

Arsenal provided the upmost support both mentally and physically. As soon as Mitchell confided in her manager, it was followed by a chat with a psychologist and thus began the process of starting to 'feel better' again, as she says.

They also allowed her to come back gradually, at her own pace, until she felt ready to resume full training – saying: "They [Arsenal] really helped support me."

Making room for feelings
Mitchell is also very open about 'making room' for her beliefs, instead of just bottling up and ignoring it.

And so, while her teammates celebrated after the title-winning game at Brighton, she spent those 10-15 minutes in the shower crying as a means to release those emotions and subsequently felt better for it afterwards, joining in the title celebrations.

As Mitchell says in her interview, mental wellbeing is not spoken about enough in football. If someone is struggling with their mental wellbeing, then it should be treated with as the same likeliness as a physical injury in which the same level of importance and support is applied to it.

"Even though playing football is brilliant, we're all just human."

Following the heartbreak of missing out on a place in Scotland's World Cup squad, Mitchell is focused on continuing to work on her mental health and paying with a smile on her face.

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