GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The son of late comedic genius Robin Williams will speak at an event at Meijer Gardens hosted by a local mental health organization for suicide prevention awareness month.
The i understand organization is holding a special event Thursday featuring Zak Williams as a keynote speaker. He talked to News 8 about seeing his father suffer mentally, which he notes happens to people throughout the world.
“It happens to millions of people every year. My experience was one of being traumatized. I was doing unhealthy things like self-medicating using alcohol. And from my experience, I had to discover what I required to heal pretty quickly,” Williams said.
He said that “mental hygiene” became important to stay healthy in his everyday life.
“My experience around trauma and losing a loved one was, was one of losing, in some respect, the foundation, the grounding, that I had expected and taken for granted most of my life. In seeing a parent struggle, I felt helpless in many ways,” Williams said.
“I want to share my path of healing because, ultimately, I hope that others can find their own way of healing from their experiences and traumas,” he said.
Williams said the first step to healing after his father’s death was acknowledging that he was avoiding what he was going through.
“I was doing things to feel numb, I was isolating. And I had to address those issues prior to actually going into the meaningful work. So you have to identify what you’re doing to not address the issues or, or look in. Because looking inward can be really scary and it was scary for me,” Williams recounted.
He hopes people who hear him speak at the i understand gala finds their personal paths to happiness.
“I want people to be happy and I’m hoping they can find that happiness through meaningful work … If one person walks away saying, ‘Hey, I think I know the direction I want to take to find happiness and sustaining happiness.'”
To learn more about i understand or if you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, visit the i understand website.