Strong, tough, doesn’t talk about his feelings—all descriptors that come to mind thinking of an older conception of how many feel a man should be. But one Southwest Florida father is now trying to break the mold after his daughter tried taking her own life.
Gabby Beaulieu, 17, suffered in school, feeling left out and lonely and the painful emotions eventually became too much to handle.
“I struggled socially and was kind of an outcast,” Gabby said. “It was hard for me to make friends. I decided that I was going to take some pills and end it all because I was just overwhelmed and I felt like I was not a good enough person or a good kid.”
Thankfully, Gabby survived and recovered, but it was a life-changing wake-up call for her father.
“It was terrible,” said Dan Beaulieu. “She seemed so sad, and… and I remember afterward, I just went into her room and just sat there out of… helplessness.”
At the time, Beaulieu’s time was consumed with opening and managing numerous Five Guys restaurants throughout Southwest Florida. He also had a hard time talking about feelings. But now, with a group of other men from Lee Health, Dan is working to change the vicious cycle.
“Gotta be present,” Beaulieu said. “Have to be present as a male. Work is work and it will always be there.”
Beaulieu is now taking the conversation a step further, to help everyone. The Kids’ Minds Matter Facebook page will host the Five Guys panel discussion. The men will meet to tackle the norms of masculinity, discuss their changing roles in the family snd how raising children is not what it used to be.
“The reality is we are not all meant to be gladiators,” Beaulieu said. “Some of us are destined to be intellectuals, some are destined to be artists.”
Armando Llechu also now approaches parenting differently after his son started to act out.
“I try to teach my son and daughter to articulate their feelings,” Llechu said. “Don’t default to anger.”
And just because men may not discuss feelings, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
In fact, Dr. Paul Simeone with Lee Health says Lee Health has seen a major rise in men coming in for mental health care throughout the pandemic.
“I think what is true about a lot of the men… they are discovering for the first time that they have an emotional life,” Simeone said.
And for Beaulieu, life is so much better with a focus on his mental health and his daughter’s emotions.
“Your kids are going to grow up and they are going to move on and you are only going to get that little bit of time,” Beaulieu said.
You can watch the Kids’ Minds Matter Facebook event with the Five Guys panel discussion on mental health at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16.
Warning signs to look out for in your child:
- Isolation or refusal to attend school;
- Changes in eating habits;
- Withdrawal from peers or social activities;
- Withdrawal from extracurricular activities at school or in the community; and/or
- Reports of bullying, harassment, or intimidation in school, the community, or on social media.
Kids’ Minds Matter: kidsmindsmatter.com
SalusCare has a weekly zoom support group for parents. It’s free and you do not need to be a client. It’s Monday nights at 7. Zoom ID: 975 9545 3712 Password: 488302
SalusCare Emergency Services: 239-275-4242
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Disaster Distress Helpline: www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
Parent/Caregiver Guide for Helping Families Cope with COVID-19: www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf
Smart Social: Monitor your kids online https://smartsocial.com/parental-control-software/
If you or a loved one are struggling, you can find support by visiting resources on the NAMI website.
For a comprehensive list of resources and organizations, you can visit This is My Brave.
For additional tools, including a treatment locator, you can visit the CDC’s mental health web page.
FGCU Community Counseling Center
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry counties
Lee Health – Behavioral Health
Lee Health Foundation’s – ‘Kids Minds Matter’
The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a free handbook
Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers
Collier County Mental Health Court
Lee County Mental Health Court
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)
Southwest Florida Resource Link
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration