Vivianne Miedema has opened up on how she suffered from panic attacks earlier in her career, with the Arsenal forward at the forefront of a new player-led mental health movement in football.
The Dutch international joined Arsenal in 2017 and said that was the first time she had felt comfortable seeking help for the difficulties she had experienced.
Supported by Common Goal, Miedema is now one of several players behind the launch of Create the Space, a collective initiative to equip football at all levels with the knowledge, skills and resources to understand, prevent and deal with mental health issues.
'Where I grew up in the north of Holland it just wasn't OK to talk about mental health, it just wasn't done,' Miedema said.
'Then when I moved to Germany when I said I wasn't feeling so good and needed more time, I was told that I needed to train harder.
Arsenal and Holland star Vivianne Miedema has opened up on how she suffered from panic attacks earlier in her career - and why that is motivating her to held with a new initiative
Growing up in the Netherlands, it was not customary to be open about mental health problems
'At Arsenal when I had the opportunity to see someone, I was suffering from panic attacks, but even then I still wasn't sure if I should, as it had never been OK to address my mental health.
'The proudest moment of my career so far was to take care of myself and look after my mental health, not just the physical. Everybody needs support.'
Miedema's partner and Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead is also backing the campaign, with the forward saying she was in a 'dark place' after the passing of her mum earlier this year
'In January I lost my Mum and because of the injury I couldn't play football, which was always my escape, my happy place,' Mead said.
'Moments when people thought I was fine because of my outgoing personality, were very dark.
'It's been a tough process to understand. Team-mates, 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.
Beth Mead (left), Miedema's partner, is another high profile star backing the new campaign
Top players across the men's and women's game are giving their backing to Create the Space, a collective initiative to equip football at all levels with the knowledge, skills and resources to understand, prevent and deal with mental health issues
'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.'
The campaign is also backed by Tottenham vice captain Molly Bartrip, who has previously spoken about her battle with anorexia and depression during her youth.
'Some years ago I was in a position where I wanted to commit suicide,' Bartrip said.
'You feel like you're a burden, but it's the strongest thing to ask for help. Mental health shouldn't be a forbidden subject, it should be as open as having an injury. I now consider my vulnerability as a strength.
'For the first time in 10 years I'm not seeing a counsellor at the moment. I want football to become a safe space and hope that from the top level down to grassroots that's what we can achieve with Create the Space.'
Chelsea and England left back Ben Chilwell, who is also part of the movement, is another high-profile player who has been open about experiencing mental health difficulties.
Chelsea full-back Ben Chilwell has been very open on his own mental health battle
'I have had my own mental health journey and I felt unsure about where to turn to for support.
'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.'
Create the Space aims to be the starting point of equipping everyone at every level of football with the ability to understand and manage mental health.
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