Recent comments made by Fox Sports host Skip Bayless have led to controversy. Bayless criticized Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott for speaking out about his depression. Prescott's brother died by suicide, and the quarterback publicly shared his struggle and his desire to be vulnerable, genuine, and transparent. Bayless said he didn't have sympathy for Prescott's public admission, and said revealing "weakness" could reflect the team's ability to believe in him.

The incident has led to conversations about the stigma related to mental illness and the need for better understanding of mental health concerns. Our guests this hour share their experiences with depression and respond to the controversy:

Local medical professionals say the number of telepsychiatry visits has increased significantly during the pandemic. This hour, we discuss the value of telepsychiatry and mental health support offered through virtual platforms, both during the pandemic and beyond.

Our guests:

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:

New York will become the first state to require mental health education in all grades. Currently, health classes in most schools teach students about physical health, food and nutrition, and substance abuse disorders, but teachers say there isn’t enough of a focus on the impact mental health has on overall wellbeing. That will change after new legislation requiring mental health curricula goes into effect in July.

Experts say the onset of mental illness often begins at a young age, so helping students recognize symptoms and learn coping skills is key.

Our guests weigh in on what they’d like lessons plans to cover, and why they say this legislation is overdue. In studio:  

  • Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator and walk manager for NAMI Rochester
  • Janine Sanger, coordinator of health and wellness for the Webster Central School District
  • Heather Newton, parent and director of development at Foodlink
  • Tamara Minter, retired Rochester City School District administrator who oversees the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

Two of the best players in the NBA recently went public about their struggles with mental health. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers wrote a piece for the Players Tribune in which he opened up about an anxiety attack during a recent game. DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors tweeted and then gave interviews about his long-standing battle with depression. Within days, each player had heard from thousands of fans who decided to finally open up about their own challenges with mental health.

We discuss stigma, opening up, and the difficulty that comes with hiding mental health issues. Our guests:

  • Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator and walk manager for NAMI Rochester
  • Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Steven Mojsovski, lifelong OCD and anxiety sufferer
  • Desiree Pernaselci, teacher at Greece Olympia High School, and coach of the girls' soccer team and girls' and boys' track and field team

We talk about the stigma of mental illness, and assumptions the American public has about mental health issues. This conversation comes just weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 

Mike Veny is a mental health advocate, drum circle facilitator, and motivational speaker. He tried to take his own life at age 10, and has struggled with depression, anxiety, and OCD since he was young. Now, he uses drumming to calm himself, connect with people, and break down the stigma associated with mental health challenges.

Veny is in Rochester as a guest of NAMI Rochester, but first, he's our guest on Connections. In studio:

  • Mike Veny, mental health advocate, motivational speaker, and drum circle facilitator
  • Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator and walk manager for NAMI Rochester
  • Joy Kaminski, music therapist at Rochester Psychiatric Center

The tragic and bizarre story of Holly Colino's descent into mental illness has sparked a lot of media attention, but the murder she allegedly committed was not at all typical of someone struggling with such problems. And here is the concern of the local mental health community: Can we dig into Colino's past to understand what led her back to Rochester without mistaking her story as something common or typical? People with mental illness already deal with stigma and misunderstanding. 

We explore all of that with our guests:

Chamique Holdsclaw is a six-time WNBA All-Star and an Olympic gold medalist, but her life now is dedicated to her achievements off the court. 

Holdsclaw struggled with depression as a child, in part, she says, due to her difficult home life. Her mother was an alcoholic, so she and her younger brother were raised by her grandmother in a housing project in Queens. Holdsclaw took her anger and frustration to the basketball court, where she realized she had a gift. She won three NCAA championships with the University of Tennessee, and was the first draft pick for the WNBA in 1999.

Yet, while she dominated on the court, her personal life was unraveling. In 2006, she attempted to take her own life, and in 2012, she was arrested for firing a pistol into a vehicle while her ex-girlfriend was inside. She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Holdsclaw now travels the country as a mental health advocate, speaking about ending the stigma of mental illness. She's a guest of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rochester chapter, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

  • Chamique Holdsclaw, mental health advocate, WNBA All-Star, and Olympic gold medalist
  • Pat Sine, executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rochester chapter
  • Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rochester chapter

Assemblyman Bill Nojay's suicide has raised questions about possible fraud charges he was facing. Should the public have access to that information? The Democrat & Chronicle says yes. It's unusual for someone accused of a crime to die before the criminal complaint or indictment can be unsealed.

We talk to the D&C's reporting team of Gary Craig and Steve Orr, who broke the story about possible fraud charges. They not only explain why the newspaper is pushing for public release; they take us through the extraordinary events of Friday that led to their initial story.

Then we discuss suicide prevention with Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rochester chapter. She shares her own story, and discusses resources for suicide prevention.