Robin Williams' son Zak says his father’s death 'traumatized' him

Zak Williams is talking candidly about how the death of his father, the legendary Robin Williams, affected him.

The Patch Adams actor died in 2014 by suicide. He was 63 years old. In a recent online Q & A with the mental health chat community 18percent, 36-year-old Zak said he struggled with mental health issues after the death of his dad, and shared how doing service work has been helpful to him.

"Well, I was very traumatized after my dad's death and found that teaching financial literacy in prison helped me heal and cope with the trauma," he said. "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."

Zak is CEO and co-founder of the mental health support company PYM HealthZak, and is a board member of mental health awareness non-profit Bring Change 2 Mind and the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts. He said he became an advocate for others struggling after the loss of a loved ones due to his own experience, and shared how he now honors his late father.

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NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Zak Williams and Robin Williams attend the Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine at Phillips De Pury on November 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Timo Wallets LLC)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Zak Williams speaks on stage at The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 'A Magical Evening' on November 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) Zak Williams, William Reeve, Alexandra Reeve Givens, Matthew Reeve attend The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Hosts 'A Magical Evening' on November 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Robin Williams with son Zak & wife Marsha during 'One Hour Photo' Premiere at Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, throws out the ceremonial first pitch as Zelda and Cody Williams look on before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, meets actor Billy Crystal after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Robin Williams with son Zak & wife Marsha during 'Death To Smoochy' Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Robin Williams, son Zak & wife Marsha during 'Death To Smoochy' Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
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"Well, I decided to become an advocate because I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression personally," he said. "Found myself self-medicating and generally unhappy so when it came to speaking about my and my family struggles personally it just sort of clicked. In terms of honoring him personally, I have an 11-week-old son so at this point it mainly involves being a present father."

He later shared some advice on healthier ways to cope with loss.

"I found that the first fix for me was to learn how to not self-medicate," he said. "I was masking the pain with alcohol often and that just made things worse. Eating well and getting outdoors around nature is also really helpful for me. If self-medication isn't an issue then finding opportunities to connect with people is helpful. Also, exercise!"

"What I neglected to do after my dad’s passing was take care of myself," he added. "You can't be there for others if you are not paying attention to your needs and struggles. Take the time to do what you need to do to get through the day first. Then you'll have a fuller cup to be there for others. Also, support groups were really helpful for me."

Zak also shared the best lessons he's learned from his dad.

"That being unconditionally loving and kind and considerate is one of the secrets to leaving a full life," he shared. "That, and finding connection and common ground. Oh, also, finding gratitude in the day-to-day life is a simple, wonderful way to feel good."

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Robin Williams with his children
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Robin Williams, daughter Zelda and son Cody during "RV" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 9: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams arrive at "Old Dogs" World Premiere at the El Capitan Theater on November 9, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
Zelda Williams and Robin Williams during Robin Williams and JoJo Visit MTV's "TRL" - April 27, 2006 at MTV Studios - Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jason Kempin/FilmMagic)
Cody Williams and actor Robin Williams attend "A Magical Evening" hosted by The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation at The Marriott Marquis on November 12, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Zak Williams and Robin Williams attend the Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine at Phillips De Pury on November 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Timo Wallets LLC)
Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zelda Williams attends The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zachary Pym Williams and Zelda Willimas attend The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zachary Pym Williams attends The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zelda and Cody Williams, children of Robin Williams, take part in pre-game ceremonies before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Billy Crystal greets Robin Williams' son Zak Williams before Zak throws out the first pitch before the start of San Francisco Giants' Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.(Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)(Digital First Media Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
Robin Williams and Zelda Williams arrive to the New York Premiere of "House of D" held at Loews Lincoln Square , New York City ZAK BRIAN. (Photo by Brian ZAK/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
US actress and daughter of late US actor Robin Williams, Zelda Williams arrives to attend the 18th Post-Golden Globes Party hosted by Warner Bros Pictures and InStyle at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. / AFP / LILLY LAWRENCE (Photo credit should read LILLY LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda pose on arrival for the world premiere of the movie 'Happy Feet Two' in Hollywood on November 13, 2011 in southern California. Happy Feet Two will presented in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D, and also in 2D, on November 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Actors Zelda Williams and Robin Williams attend the "Happy Feet Two" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams pose at the premiere of Magnolia Pictures' 'World's Greatest Dad' at The Landmark Theater on August 13, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 20: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams attend the 2008 Outfest Film Festival Hosts The 14th Annual Film Competition Awards at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on July 20, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Zelda Williams and Robin Williams backstage during the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for PCA)
Robin Williams and Daughter Zelda during World Premiere of "Happy Feet" - Arrivals at Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
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