Williams, the 36-year-old gospel music singer, was a speaker at The Kennedy Forum event “Young Minds: Building Resilience and Well Being for the Next Generation” that took place Tuesday at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. There, Williams was able to share her testimony and touched more than just the young people in attendance with her story.
Patrick J Kennedy, the nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy who served as a Rhode Island congressman before struggling with his own mental health issues, founded the Kennedy Forum three years ago. Kennedy applauded Williams for sharing her testimony.
“Thank you for sharing your story and being an advocate, Michelle. #YoungMinds,” he tweeted.
Williams seemed equally touched by Kennedy’s story, after the former congressman turned author shared his own account after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder which led him to end his political career years ago.
“Thank you for your energy and transparency,” she responded to Kennedy. “I’m here for you, and the @kennedyforum in any way I can!”
The singer also impressed another speaker at the forum, Olympic medal winning swimmer Allison Rodgers Schmitt.
“You are an amazing person with an incredible story!! Keep being you!! You rock,” the Olympian commented on Williams’ Twitter.
This is not the first time Williams has publicly shared her testimony concerning her struggle with mental health issues. Last year she appeared on BET’s “Lift Every Voice” where she spoke about suffering from a depression in 2012 that dates back to when she was 15 years old.
“I thought it was growing pains. I thought ‘oh I just like to be by myself,’ but there were things going on around me, disappointments,” Williams recalled on the show. “A lot of things that I saw with my eyes, a lot of things that I heard with my ears really hurt me. I carried that into my adulthood.”
While Williams admitted she did not want to deal with her issues for years, she didn’t realize that also meant she was not healed from certain situations. Years later, she sees the importance of both prayer and seeking professional help if people are having a hard time dealing with depression.
The singer said it is important to recognize when negative ungodly thoughts enter the mind in order to stop them.
“If the thoughts that enter your mind don’t bring peace, happiness (or) joy think on those things that are from above. If they’re not (going) to take you above, that’s not of God,” Williams said on the show. “So you need to shake yourself and say ‘boo get out of your feelings, because it’s you. That ain’t God.'”