WXXI AM News

Mental Illness

Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of “Prozac Nation,” died Tuesday at the age of 52 from cancer. Wurtzel’s memoir chronicling her experiences with depression was a best-seller, and has been praised for how it helped open dialogue about mental illness. It also sparked conversations about treatment for depression and other mental health challenges, specifically, the use of psychiatric medication.

This hour, our guests discuss the impact of the book, stigma related the mental illness, and how treatment methods have evolved. In studio:

  • Eric Caine, M.D., former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Jeremy Moule, news editor for CITY Newspaper
  • Jerome Stiller, owner of Thrive Health and Wellness LLC, and In Our Own Voices presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

How are mental health and homelessness connected? The Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center is preparing for its annual Riverwalk, a fundraiser which will help provide mental health care to people in need, regardless of their insurance or income status.

Our guests talk about the impact of homelessness on mental health. In studio: 

The new film “Joker” depicts a man suffering from mental illness who turns to violence. Mental health advocates have been split by two themes in the movie: the connection of mental illness to violence, and the need for funding and support services for those who have mental illness.

We discuss the concerns that critics have, and we also talk about what the CITY Newspaper critic thinks about the movie as a whole. In studio:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Those individuals are family members, friends, neighbors and community members; perhaps everyone knows someone who is struggling with a mental health issue.

Actor Sean Astin lived with a parent struggling with bipolar disorder. His mother was acclaimed actress Patty Duke, who devoted much of her life to reducing the stigma of mental illness. Now, Astin is doing the same. He’s coming to Rochester as a guest of East House’s annual Hope and Recovery Luncheon where he’ll share his story and message, but first, he joins us on Connections.

We also talk with representatives from East House about recovery, how to care for caregivers, how to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, and more. Our guests:

  • Sean Astin, actor and advocate for mental health awareness
  • Kim Brumber, president and CEO of East House
  • Chuck Montante, board member for East House and president of Westfall Associates
  • Beth Bloom, peer support specialist at East House

Dr. Elizabeth Ford is the author of “Sometimes Amazing Things Happen.” It’s a book about stories from a prison, where she worked to understand the lives and treatment of incarcerated people who have mental illness. Dr. Ford’s groundbreaking work shows just prevalent mental illness is in the criminal justice system, and she has ideas about how to treat it and what the role of the system should be in rehabilitating people.

She’s in Rochester for a presentation at the Rochester Academy of Medicine, but first, she joins us on Connections.

New research shows the number of children and teens visiting emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and attempts to take their own lives has doubled between 2007 and 2015. Our guests discuss how to identify warning signs and help children who struggle with mental health issues. We also preview this year’s edition of the Reel Mind Film Series.

Our guests:

  • Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film Series
  • Dr. Eric Caine, M.D., former chair and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Ruth Turner, chief of student support services and social emotional learning for the Rochester City School District
  • Gwennie von Einsiedel, special guest of the Reel Mind Film Series

The new film “Bird Box” has generated a lot of buzz. Some of that buzz comes from advocates for mental health awareness, who say the film perpetuates stigma of mental illness.

This hour, we discuss how mental health challenges are depicted in the media and the effects those depictions have on viewers. We also discuss when and where trigger warnings should be used. In studio:

WATCH: Mental health disparities for people of color

Aug 6, 2018

Most racial and ethnic minority groups have similar - or in some cases, fewer - mental health disorders than their white peers. And yet, the consequences of mental illness in minorities may be long-lasting. That’s according to the American Psychiatric Association. The disparities in mental health care for racial, ethnic and religious minorities is real. How is it happening, why is it happening, and what resources are available right here in our community to help combat it? We look into these questions and more on this edition of Need to Know.

WATCH: Teens helping other teens heal from mental trauma

Aug 6, 2018

Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14. And more than two-thirds of young people report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. There are dire consequences to these numbers IF they’re not addressed. As researchers point out, untreated traumatic stress and mental health can lead to school dropouts, suicide and more. For these reasons and others, a number of teens in Rochester are fighting back against these statistics to help their peers not only develop the skills they need to survive but to also provide them with the means to heal. The teens are youth organizers with Rochester’s Teen Empowerment and they’re hosting a series of workshops this summer for teens, by teens addressing trauma and mental health.

WATCH: Mental health care for people of color and for youth

Aug 2, 2018

While the work to break public stigma of mental illness in our country continues, there’s another issue to address: disparities in mental health care for people of color. The problem and a local solution to the issue on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, trauma and mental illness are plaguing our youth. We’ll hear from teens specifically focused on helping other teens not just survive, but find healing and support from traumatic life experiences.

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