Mental health advocate Zak Williams, son of the late actor and comedian Robin Williams, is making it his life’s mission to raise awareness of and increase access to mental health support programs. Williams, who married Olivia June earlier this month on #WorldMentalHealthDay, is the CEO and founder of the anxiety relief company PYM, a trustee of United for Global Mental Health and a board member of the mental health awareness non-profit Bring Change 2 Mind. The couple has an 18-month-old son, McLaurin “Mickey” Clement Williams, whose first name was Robin’s middle name.
New Jersey Family had the opportunity to talk with Williams about his support of Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth. Trinitas operates one of the most comprehensive departments of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry in New Jersey. Every year, Trinitas embarks on a Peace of Mind campaign to raise funds for the expansion of the Behavioral Health facilities at Trinitas, where there is a long waiting list for behavioral health and psychiatry services.
This year’s Peace of Mind event, “Easing the Behavioral Health Stigma,” will be held virtually on Tuesday, October 27. The event will feature Williams and journalist Jack Ford having a discussion about the importance of easing the stigma of mental illness. Both Ford, whose father died from extreme alcohol abuse, and Williams, whose father had a severe brain disease and then died by suicide, have spoken out about this stigma for many years.
Zak’s participation in the virtual event is especially timely given the recent release of the documentary “Robin’s Wish.” The film documents the events leading up to Robin Williams’ suicide. Although he was not properly diagnosed until his autopsy, Robin was reported to be battling Lewy body dementia, a degenerative condition with many similarities to Alzheimer’s disease.
In his chat with New Jersey Family, Zak Williams spoke about the incredibly tough journey he faced battling his own depression and anxiety, especially in the wake of his father’s death. Williams advises anyone in a dark place to seek connection with people, find community support programs such as talk therapy and avoid self-medicating.
The Trinitas Peace of Mind event begins with a VIP Discussion at 6 pm followed by a 7:15 – 8:15 p.m. conversation with Zak Williams and Jack Ford followed by a live pledge. For ticket information and to support the cause, visit www.Trinitasrmc.org/peace. Watch our interview with Williams above.