Lionesses, past and present, meet up for a chat during Mental Health Awareness Week

Saturday 23 May 2020
Kelly Smith on camera during our round table discussion around Mental Health Awareness Week

Former Lioness Karen Carney hosted three of her former England team-mates in a special round table chat to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

In association with our charity partners, Heads Together, the quartet discussed their own experiences on The FA Player on how aspects of the game and their own personal lives have affected their mental wellbeing.

For Arsenal midfielder Nobbs, that included how a serious knee injury curtailed her career last year, as well as enduring a difficult time while in the process of moving from Sunderland to Arsenal at the same time as her grandfather was diagnosed with cancer.

Jordan Nobbs saw injury rule her out of action for over a year

And England legend Smith revealed how a similar injury suffered when she was playing in the USA in 2001 led to depression and addiction issues which eventually saw her father fly to Philadelphia to bring her home.

Lionesses and Chelsea goalkeeper Telford explained how she's had to deal with looking at social media and how the negative comments can play a part in affecting the mindset of players.


She also touched upon how social media helped her following the death of her mother in 2018, but how the longer-term impact of it eventually took its toll and prompted her to get help.

"We never really have the opportunity to address our mental health - we go along on this roller coaster and think the down days are meant to happen,” said Telford.

Kelly Smith is one of the Lionesses' all-time greats

"There's ways of dealing with those days so they don't become this storm that bubbles up in the background and then comes crashing down.

"We're very unique in that we're going through a period where mental health is something we can openly talk about these days.

"When Kelly was 20, it was probably something that wasn't addressed, we're just meant to be strong and that's how we're meant to feel and talking wasn’t a thing.

"We've got better at that and whether you're an athlete or a person that's not, you can talk about how you feel because it's so important.”

Smith added: "As a footballer, I touched so many highs, but I never really knew how to deal with the lows emotionally.

"You can't keep everything in like I did, you have to talk and open up and speak to people or not feel like you're being a burden."

Carly Telford has been a regular in the England Women's squad over the last decade

And Nobbs said: "When it comes to football, the ACL injury is the one that plays a major part and the one you never want to hear that you've done.

"You have the bad news and mentally, I definitely went into an isolation period where you sit on the sofa and don't move.

"You get sick of speaking to people about it because naturally people want to care for you and know how you are.

"I got sent God knows how many flowers to my apartment and you realise the support you have, but it was obviously one of the worst times of my career in a sense of you're kind of depressed but you don't want to talk about it because you don't want to sound depressing.

"It's hard to find that balance to know what's best. Never take sport too seriously because it can go from high to low so quickly.

"The ACL can take you so low, you need that balance where you don't end up too high or too low.”

You can watch the full video on The FA Player. 

By Nicholas Veevers