"I was acutely aware of my dad's struggles with depression, it manifested in addiction at times, and he took great lengths to support his well-being and mental health," he said.
Six years after the legendary Robin Williams' death, his son Zak is speaking out about the importance of mental health. Appearing on a new episode of The Dr. Oz Show, the 37-year-old opened up about his late father's struggles with depression and the dark times he personally experienced after Williams died by suicide in August 2014 at the age of 63. "I was acutely aware of my dad's struggles with depression, it manifested in addiction at times, and he took great lengths to support his well-being and mental health, especially when he was challenged," Zac said in the Tuesday episode, reports PEOPLE.
"It was something that was a daily consideration for him," he continued. "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 prioritized his mental health throughout most of his life, at least that I experienced with him." The CEO and co-founder of the mental health support company PYM Health also shared his own struggles with depression and addiction after losing his father, revealing that it reached a point where he realized he needed help.
"I found myself hitting rock bottom when I wanted to just be numb. I found myself wanting to drink alcohol and just not think," Zac recalled. "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 realized something had to give." The father-of-one revealed that finding "forms of healing, specifically relating to not only a healthy lifestyle but also connecting with people," has proved immensely helpful in improving his mental health.
"I can't stress how important service is to my life," he said. "The other thing is I found community support groups to be really helpful. I'm in a 12-Step program, that's very helpful for me personally. For others, it might be connecting through community organization or through sports, there's any number of things." Williams' death came as a heartbreaking shock for his friends, family, and fans around the world who'd come to find comfort in the Jumanji actor's warm smile and jovial persona. It was later revealed that the star had suffered from Lewy Body Dementia — a type of brain disease that affected his thinking, memory, and movement control — which is the second-most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
Zak, who has been an active advocate for the importance of prioritizing and raising awareness about mental health, previously shared how he's been keeping his father's spirit alive through his work. "I stay away from drugs and alcohol, I commit to support groups," he said in May. "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 organizations. Eating well, committing to a healthy lifestyle. Things that I need in my weekly and daily regimen to better support my well-being."
Following his marriage to longtime partner, Olivia June — with whom he shares their 18-month-old son McLaurin "Mickey" Clement — in an intimate COVID-safe ceremony in October, Zak revealed that he's made significant progress in his mental health journey. "I'm thrilled to have a family and live the life that I always wanted to live," he said. "I've learned I'm not broken. Despite experiencing traumatic events, I can recover. And I am now on a path of healing and being the person I always wanted to be."