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About Mental Health

“I think I’m an accidental advocate in a lot of ways.”

Zelda Williams, the daughter of late comedian Robin Williams, refers to herself as an accidental advocate for mental health. After the suicide of her father in August of 2014, the 27-year-old writer, director, and actress took a short break from social media, but has since stepped into the spotlight to help raise awareness for mental health.

Her father’s death left fans saddened and confused—and Zelda herself questioned it, posting on Tumblr about her grief, writing: “While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small ways, is shared with millions.”

Robin Wiliams’ Daughter Says Her Dad Helped Her Understand Mental Illness
“I think I’m an accidental advocate in a lot of ways.”
By Ashley Ross May 18, 2017
Zelda Williams
Michael Bezjian/GETTY

Robin’s struggles with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism were well-documented throughout his life. He publicly discussed them on occasion, like in 2010, when he told The Guardian about turning to alcohol when he felt alone. And while Zelda doesn’t speak specifically about her own family’s personal relationship to mental health, she does acknowledge that people suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and many other mental disorders are often hiding in plain sight.

“Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not ruining someone’s life,” she tells, speaking from a luncheon for the Hope and Grace Initiative with Philosophy, which has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise money and awareness for mental health.

As such, her mission has been to help people understand what it means to have a mental illness. “There’s a realization that everyone is fighting a different battle and you can’t fight it for someone else but you can try to understand,” she says. “Part of the first step toward, even before acceptance, but just toward understanding is actually listening and learning.”

Zelda acknowledges that mental health advocacy is “in the zeitgest” right now. There’s been a wave of newfound awareness for young people’s mental health, too, with shows like 13 Reasons Why gaining attention and celebrities like Emma Stone and Adele opening up about their anxiety. first step.”

She’s particularly interested in finding better ways to offer affordable treatment to people who are struggling. “I’m a huge supporter of therapy, particualrly for people in my age group of 25 to 30 when a lot of people think they would have had sorted through life and figured it out,” Zelda says. “But therapy is still a privilege because it is so expensive for a lot of people and I wish it was more available.”

But she acknowledges there’s still a long way to go. “As someone who always prided herself on being the strong one who took care of others, there were a lot of people in my life who didn’t know how to check if I was okay when my world turned upside down,” she says. “We all have to take it day by day.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

May 18, 2017.