Robin Williams’ son Zak says his dad ‘took great lengths’ to support his own mental health before his death

Charley Ross
·2-min read
 (Rex Features)
(Rex Features)

Robin Williams’ son Zak has spoken out about the lengths that the actor took throughout his life to “support his wellbeing and mental health”.

On an upcoming episode of US daytime talk show The Dr. Oz Show, he has opened up about his father’s prioritisation of his mental health, particularly when he was struggling, as well as his history of “showing up for others”.

"I was acutely aware of my dad's struggles with depression,” Zak said. “It manifested in addiction at times, and he took great lengths to support his wellbeing and mental health, especially when he was challenged." He also called these actions a “daily consideration” for his father.

"The main thing for me was noticing how he went through great lengths to support himself while he could show up for others. It was clear that he prioritised his mental health throughout most of his life, at least that I experienced with him."

Zak also described his “dysregulating” experiences with mental health and addiction issues himself in the aftermath of his father’s death, realising “something had to give”. Williams died by suicide at the age of 63 back in 2014.

"I found myself hitting rock bottom when I wanted to just be numb. I found myself wanting to drink alcohol and just not think," he recalls. "That was something that was really dysregulating for me."

"I found myself waking up in the morning and feeling like I was having a dissociative experience, but I just didn't want to be living the life I was living. I realised something had to give," he says.

Getty Images
Getty Images

In order to honour his father, Zak has become an advocate for organisations such as advocacy group Inseparable, who work to provide mental health support to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"One thing I found very healing for me through my experience has been service and commitment to service work specifically around mental health and mental health support organisations,” he said in a previous interview with People.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

For services local to you, the national mental health database – Hub of Hope – allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area.

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