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USWNT players join Common Goal to highlight the importance of mental health

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

“My goal is to humanize all of us. We want to demonstrate that vulnerability is a sign of strength,” Naomi Girma said of her decision to lead a mental health initiative with her U.S. women’s national team teammates. The players are teaming up with Common Goal to help highlight mental health conversations in soccer ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This innovative initiative involves a three-part feature series and multiple public service announcement to be aired throughout the tournament. As part of the initiative FOX Sports will be dedicating 1% of its broadcast coverage to spotlighting the importance of mental health across all its platforms.

In the first released video, U.S. stars Alex Morgan, Sophia Smith, Sofia Huerta, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Thompson, Alana Cook, Andi Sullivan, Megan Rapinoe, Trinity Rodman and Girma share a message for people who may be struggling.

Girma recently wrote an op-ed for The Player’s Tribune about the loss of her Stanford teammate and best friend Katie Meyer in March 2022. It is that devastating loss that now motivates her to lead this mental health project and hopefully prevent other lives from being lost to suicide. “Through this project, her spirit, her warmth, and her legacy will live on. We will make sure of that,” Girma wrote of her motivation.

“We know first-hand how many people, especially student athletes, are struggling in silence, and we want to use our platform in this huge moment for something bigger than soccer,” Girma wrote.

They hope to not end just at awareness but to help give young people the tools to cope with depression, anxiety, stress and the “very bad days.”

After the World Cup they will, “send out mental health professionals to youth sports organizations in communities across the country, to make sure that the coaches and players have the tools and skills to know when someone is dealing with a mental health issue, and how to get the proper help.”

Sophia Smith was also best friends with Meyer, playing with her and Girma at Stanford. She told media on Wednesday that she is impressed with her long-time teammate’s work on this and is fully supportive. Even though it can be hard to be reminded that her friend is gone, she knows the message is too important.

“Everything we do now is for Katie [Meyer],” Smith said.

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