Robin Williams’ Children Want To Teach Everyone How To Support People With Mental Illness
For many of us, Robin Williams was the comforting face of ’90s cinema, bringing laughter and fun, and a larger than life persona.
The beloved actor’s death in August 2014 came as a shock to us all; with many still feeling the loss of one of the most talented comedian and voice actors of modern times.
Now Williams’ children are honouring their father’s legacy in a truly meaningful way, teaching others how to support those who suffer from mental illness.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Williams’ son Zachary, who works as a mental health advocate and entrepreneur, spoke of feeling ‘helpless’ when faced with his famous father’s suffering:
It was sad to see someone who was suffering so. As a family member and a child, you want to do everything you can to help soothe and ease what seemed to be an intense personal pain,
And there were times where it felt like there was helplessness from my part, I didn’t know what I could do, or how I could be of best support.
Zachary, 36, who has recently become a father himself, continued:
Amongst those people who were close to him, we all loved him so and found it difficult because he wasn’t always open to sharing his personal pain and struggle. And we noticed that over a period of time.
Zachary also spoke of how ‘heartbreaking’ it was to watch his father go out into the world to entertain others when he himself was struggling:
It was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humor with the world,
And while he was suffering and struggling, he still went out and performed. I admire him and loved him so, and having to share him was hard.
Zachary serves as a board member for Bring Change To Mind, an organisation which tackles stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
According to the Bring Change To Mind website, campaigners work to ‘create multimedia campaigns, curate storytelling movements, and develop youth programs to encourage a diverse cultural conversation around mental health’.
Williams’ daughter Zelda has previously spoken movingly about the loss of her father, writing the following Instagram post last year, to mark what should have been his 67th birthday:
It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all.
For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back.
So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too.
Zelda, 29, continued:
If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around.
And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo.
Miss you every day, but especially these ones.
Robin Williams died by suicide on August 11, 2014, aged 63.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Robin Williams as we near the fifth anniversary of his death.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.