In the wake of the passing of his father in March, Dayne Beams was grieving, but unlike most people, it was in the spotlight.
With the responsibility of being captain of the Brisbane Lions falling on his shoulders, and facing the toughest period of his life, Beams was at breaking point.
The 28-year-old opened up to AFLPLayers.com.au about his experiences with mental illness in ‘Courageous Conversations’, a series featuring AFL players talking about mental health, in partnership with the Movember Foundation, aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness and increasing mental health literacy across the AFL industry and wider community.
When speaking about how bad his mental health had affected him following the loss of his dad, Beams revealed he broke down before his 150th AFL game, when his grief became all too much to overcome.
“No one actually knows this but I was out that day sick, but I wasn’t really sick, I ended up that day having a bit of a breakdown in my room,” Beams said.
With the Lions due to play Port Adelaide that afternoon, Beams contacted David Noble to tell him what was happening.
When Noble came around to Beams’ house to comfort him, it was there when Beams built up the courage to say he wasn’t right to play.
“Just thinking about dad, I just didn’t feel like playing football and I was an emotional wreck that morning of the game,” Beams said.
“I called David Noble and he came into my room, he put his arm around me and said, ‘What are you thinking of doing?’”
“I just said, ‘I don’t think I should be playing footy today’, I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent. Physically I was OK, but mentally I was nowhere.”
It wasn’t the first time Beams had opened up about his mental struggles and battling to overcome seeing his dad deal with illness.
In a pre-season training camp in Tasmania, Beams broke down in front of the Lion’s playing squad when talking about what had happened in his life so far.
“I remember the first conversation about it was when we were in Tasmania and we were doing an exercise, and it was about a timeline on basically your life which every player had to do, and I was the first cab off the rank,” Beams said.
“It got really deep and serious for me when I started talking about my dad and his illness. I actually cried in front of the group.”
Although speaking out about his mental struggles initially seemed embarrassing, Beams maintains it’s the best way to overcome something that is affecting you.
It’s sound advice that Beams would offer to someone who is feeling the same way.
“If I had someone come to me and ask for advice, I’d say the first time will always be hard,” Beams said.
“You just feel better getting it off your chest and just letting it out there.”
To highlight how the definition of courage has evolved in the players’ eyes, the AFL playing group has made the decision to expand the selection criteria for the AFL Players’ Most Courageous Award, presented by the Movember Foundation, to ensure that courageous off-field acts are recognised alongside on field actions.
The players have also donated $60,000 to the Movember Foundation through the AFL Players Care program. The money will support men’s mental health initiatives and assist the foundation to reach its 2030 goal to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25 per cent.
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