Regardless of how you feel about the royals or Meghan Markle, there’s no denying that Prince Harry, Meghan’s husband, has helped bring an open discussion of men’s mental health issues to the forefront. Harry has spoken in the past about the struggles of growing up in the limelight as a member of the royal family, the impact his mother’s death had on him, and his battles with depression.
Recently, he teamed up with Oprah to host Apple TV+’s “The Me You Can’t See,” a docuseries that that features celebrities opening up about their own mental health. Recently, they welcomed Zak Williams, a mental health advocate and the son of the beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, while experiencing numerous health issues.
Williams spoke with Oprah and Prince Harry about wishing he’d had a chance to chat with his dad one more time.
“There were just things I wanted to tell him, and things I wanted to talk through with him,” Zak continued. “I did get the opportunity to do some of that but not to the level that I wanted to. And my life became unmanageable as part of that. I became angry and sad and didn’t want to feel anything.”
Zak also discussed the challenges of grieving a person with whom so many strangers had their own connection.
“From my end it was hard to separate initially the process of privately grieving versus sharing the grieving with the general public, both the American public and the world,” Williams said. admitting that the process was hard on him. “I found myself extremely emotionally disregulated and feeling vulnerable and exposed when I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable. And that created a major challenge for me.”
Eventually, Williams realized that he needed to look after himself, and that meant taking a break from the public portion of his grief.
“From my end, I didn’t get a chance to focus on the private grieving process until about a year and a half after my dad passed away, meaning that I didn’t recognize that I needed to grieve privately,” he said. “I am very thankful and appreciative that I did recognize how to set boundaries.”
After his father’s passing, Zak leaned on drugs and alcohol, before getting sober and starting a family. He also works with Inseparable, an organization dedicated to making mental health care accessible and affordable to all.