Zak Williams on Sobriety And Mental Health After Father Robin Williams Suicide

Zak Williams joins us to talk about how he handled the passing of his father (actor Robin Williams) and how he found his way to sobriety, and eventually to mental health advocacy. Zak explains that finding ways to serve, and to help others, was a huge part of his path to wellness and that being vulnerable, is one of the most important parts wellness and sobriety for him. His story of substance use, and difficulties with mental health differences reminds me of my own personal experience and is highly relatable for anyone who may be struggling or know someone who is struggling.


  1. Zak talks about his experience dealing with his father (actor Robin Williams) taking his own life and how that experience impacted his relationship with substance abuse, and mental health the resulting mental health struggles he had to overcome.
  2. Zak talks about service work and about how volunteering around causes helped to heal him. He talked about the first volunteer gig he undertook, teaching financial literacy to prisoners at San Quentin prison. Committing to something like this on a deeper level really impacted him.
  3. He eventually started to work with mental health non-profits. As he started sharing his story about what he was dealing with, it drew him into a movement of sorts. During this time he realized he needed to stop self-medicating and he found his way to sobriety at that time.
  4. We talked extensively about vulnerability, as well as authenticity and how the two are different including how society and pop culture have perverted the term “authenticity.” Zak explains why vulnerability is such an important part of wellness and mental health.
  5. We talked about how our biases impact our ability to be vulnerable and how this time of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to find new ways to find human connection, and be vulnerable, for the purpose of staying healthy. We talked about how the increased dialogue around mental health during this time of social isolation may be a catalyst to help us talk more openly about biases, and how to adjust for them so we can truly be open, vulnerable and authentic with one another as humans.
  6. I heard so much of my own story, and my own struggles in Zak’s story and how he’s handled and continues to deal with sobriety, recovery, mental health and helping others.