Zak Williams, son of the late actor/comedian Robin Williams, will discuss his father’s brain disease and ultimate suicide at The Trinitas Peace of Mind Campaign’s virtual presentation, “Easing the Behavioral Health Stigma” on Tuesday, October 27.
Sponsored by Horizon BCBSNJ, the event will feature mental health advocate Zak Williams and journalist Jack Ford, as they engage in a candid discussion about the importance of easing the stigma of mental illness. Participants will be lending their support for the expansion of the Behavioral Health facilities at Trinitas Regional Medical Center so they may serve additional patients in a warm and nurturing environment.
The alliance formed by Williams, Ford, Horizon BCBSNJ, and Trinitas, a leading provider of behavioral health and psychiatry services for the past two decades, is a natural one. Both Ford, whose father died from extreme alcohol abuse, and Williams, whose father, the actor/comedian Robin Williams had a severe brain disease and then died by suicide, have spoken out about the stigma of mental illness for many years. Together, they will shed light on the subject, emphasizing the support needed to expand facilities and therefore shorten wait lists for behavioral health and psychiatry services at Trinitas.
“Our three co-chairs for the event deserve to be recognized for their tremendous effort,” says Nadine Brechner, Chief Development Officer and Vice President of the Trinitas Health Foundation. “Susan Head, De Snook, and Jill J. Sawers are leaders in the behavioral health and philanthropy space. We are quite fortunate to have them on our team, reaching out to their contacts and championing this very worthy cause.”
The same goal has inspired Zak to become a passionate global mental health advocate by sharing his personal story to support campaigns like Trinitas' Peace of Mind. Zak’s participation is especially timely considering the recent release of the documentary about his father, “Robin’s Wish.” The film documents the events leading up to Robin’s suicide. Although he was not properly diagnosed until his autopsy, Robin was battling Lewy body dementia, a degenerative condition with many similarities to Alzheimer’s disease.
Zak earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Linguistics from New York University, and is the CEO and founder of the anxiety relief company PYM. Formerly, he was COO of the recommendation platform Crossing Minds, the Director of Business Development for media company Condé Nast, and the marketing lead for gaming and media platform N3TWORK. As a US trustee of United for Global Mental Health and board member of mental health awareness non-profit Bring Change 2 Mind and the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, he focuses on guiding the organizations' strategy and business development initiatives.
“Turning this event into a virtual forum is a protective measure we feel strongly about,” says Gary Horan, President & CEO of Trinitas. “While it would be wonderful to be able to have it in person like we have in the past, we’re choosing to look at the bright side. For one thing, the event is a natural for the virtual format. Not only that, but without the need to travel, a larger number of people might be willing and able to participate from home.”
The “Peace of Mind” Campaign has previously enjoyed the support of mental health advocates like Patrick Kennedy and Mariel Hemingway, among other efforts that have contributed to more than $4 million raised for the renovation of the behavioral health facilities at Trinitas. But this year’s efforts are as important as ever before, if not more so.
Trinitas operates one of the most comprehensive departments of Behavioral Health & Psychiatry in New Jersey. In addition to operating a 98-bed inpatient facility, the medical center provides almost 200,000 outpatient behavioral health visits annually. Services are offered along a full continuum of care, with specialized services available for adults, children, adolescents and their families, as well as services for those with various substance use disorders.
There are long waiting lists for admittance into two of our unique programs serving patients from all over NJ. The Teen Specialty Unit treats children ages 13-18 who have experienced severe trauma, while the Adult Dually Diagnosed Unit treats patients who are both developmentally delayed and mentally ill.
The event will begin with a VIP Discussion 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., continue 7:15 – 8:15 p.m. with a Q&A Format, discussion with Zak Williams & Jack Ford, and a Live Pledge segment 8:15 – 8:45 p.m.
The Peace of Mind campaign will shorten the wait list by adding patient rooms. If you would like to make a gift, please go to www.trinitasrmc.org/pom
, or call 908.994.8249.