After his father, Robin Williams, tragically committed suicide, Zak Williams had difficulty moving forward from the trauma. However, he soon realized there was something that helped: teaching in a prison. During a live Q&A for 18percent.org, an online mental health community, he opened up about what life was like for him as he focused on taking care of himself. As it turns out, “opening up” was exactly what he needed.

“I was very traumatized after my dad’s death,” Zak, 36, admitted. “[I] found that teaching financial literacy in prison helped me heal and cope with the trauma. After that, I found that being vulnerable and open about my struggles seemed to actually help others. So I just kind of kept on doing it. I love it, as I find it healing personally.”

“I found great help for me personally at my lowest times in volunteering and doing service work,” he continued. “If you find yourself chronically depressed over a long period of time, seeing a psychiatrist is sometimes helpful too. Support groups and communities that focus on outreach can be helpful. That said, chronically depressed people who are not making themselves accessible can be hard to reach. Maybe volunteering for a hotline or being supportive in online communities can be of help.”

It also wasn’t easy for the star to grieve when his father was such a public figure. “Being Robin Williams’ son was wonderful in so many ways, [but] having to share him with the world was hard at times,” he said on Good Morning Britain in July. “When he was having challenges and going through certain things it was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humor with the world. … At times it was hard to differentiate what involved private grieving, and experiencing that loss, versus public grieving and experiencing that type of community interaction and communicating. I wasn’t prepared.”

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