Back to School with Kognito

As October nears its end and the rush of the back-to-school season gives way to the day-to-day hustle of the fall semester, our clients are gearing up for another exciting and productive year of creating a positive, supportive environment for their students. 

For Kognito’s school, district, college, and university clientele, supporting student mental health and fostering a safe climate is a major priority. The start of a new year can be a time of increased stress among students. Many institutions are demonstrating their commitment to their community’s needs by equipping teachers and staff with the skills to support students from the moment they step on campus. That means that their Kognito implementation efforts kick off long before students return for the first day of classes. 

In the video below, we share how our Kognito Champions – the individuals responsible for building awareness of Kognito’s solutions, engaging with key stakeholders in their organization, and ensuring that users have accessed and completed their training – have led this charge over the past few months.

Kognito Implementation At-A-Glance: PK-12 

So far this year, over 175,000 educators in the PK-12 space have accessed a Kognito simulation. That’s three times the amount of educators trained at this time last year! This effort has been particularly expansive in the state of Florida. As part of a new statewide partnership, Kognito Champions have led one of the largest implementation efforts in our history. By the end of the year, we hope to have trained every teacher in Florida – more than another 180,000 in total – on how to recognize signs of psychological distress, speak with students, and refer them to counseling resources.

Other recent PK-12 implementation highlights include:

  • Sarasota County, who helped spearhead this statewide implementation effort in Florida by training a remarkable 3,945 employees, or 70% of their teachers and staff, in just one week. Many Sarasota County educators even chose to partake in multiple simulations to broaden their knowledge base, demonstrating what Debra Giancolone, the supervisor of Mental and Behavioral Health Services within the County’s Pupil Support Services department, describes as a deep commitment to “connecting with students and families to address mental and behavioral health concerns as compassionately and efficiently as possible.”
  • Little Orange Fish, a nonprofit organization in Hunstville, AL that has partnered with Kognito to prepare local educators to speak with students who may be in need of mental health support. The organization’s founder, Daniel Adamek, was drawn to the simulations because of their value for teachers, who he notes are in a “unique position” to directly interact with students, identify signs of psychological distress, and intervene when necessary.
  • Santa Clara County, who, in response to a cluster of deaths by suicide in the Bay Area community, partnered with local county health and education agencies, university and non-profit groups, multiple school districts, and Kognito, in an effort to address school-based suicide prevention. Dr. Shashank Joshi, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Stanford University and member of the local-nonprofit HEARD Alliance, described the partnership as “a comprehensive suicide prevention approach, ultimately bettering and saving the lives of students.”


Kognito Implementation At-A-Glance: Higher Education 

In higher education, 400+ campuses are already utilizing Kognito simulations to support the mental health of students on campus. As part of these efforts, nearly 50,000 faculty, staff, and students have accessed our At-Risk simulations during 2019 to develop the knowledge and skills to identify and intervene with a student who may need mental health support. 

Other recent higher education implementation highlights include:

  • Harvey Mudd College, who are currently leveraging Kognito simulations as part of a comprehensive approach to supporting student mental health and wellness. In a recent interview with Forbes, Anna Gonzalez, the College’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, lauded Kognito simulations for “not only teach[ing] students how to be more self-aware but also how to be more aware of their environment in terms of friends, peers and classmate.”
  • Kent State University, who leveraged a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement Kognito simulations to instill faculty and staff with the knowledge and skills to speak with at-risk students. Deric Kenne, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Public Health, notes that her office has “heard from individuals who have completed the training that it helped them to better understand issues related to student mental health and the program has helped equip them with skills to assist students.”
  • The University of Iowa, who recently expanded their Kognito suicide prevention training to cover all students on campus following positive feedback from first-year students who completed the simulation during a required online course for new students. The University’s director of resident education, Greg Thompson, remarked that Kognito helps students “feel more confident about the ways they can support and assist other students or themselves in getting paired with resources that may be helpful.”

As we reflect on these efforts, it’s important to remember that the true impact of Kognito simulations is not only seen in the number of educators who are trained. Impact also lies in the number of students who are subsequently impacted as a result of the knowledge and skills that these educators strengthen. Professors, teachers, and staff already serve a gatekeeper role in their students’ lives. By preparing them to engage in difficult real-life conversations with students who may be dealing with psychological distress, we can ensure that more at-risk individuals are identified and referred to the resources they need. Research suggests that, on average, every 100 faculty/staff members trained with Kognito would approach an additional 162 students to discuss their concerns, and discuss a referral to mental health support services with an additional 135 students.


Building on Past Success

The terrific start that our clients and Champions have had in the 2019-2020 school year is unprecedented in scale. Yet this success stretches beyond just one academic year.  

Last month, we hosted the first-ever annual Kognito Education Awards to acknowledge the institutions and individuals who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to supporting student mental health. These awards, recognizing implementation efforts in the 2018-2019 school year, demonstrate the tireless work that goes into promoting mental health literacy within a school or college environment.

The six districts and seven universities that won awards differ in location, size, funding, and approach. Nonetheless, they have all gone above and beyond to ensure that young people in their communities are supported and have access to appropriate resources if needed. These winners are an inspiring example for other schools to learn from as they think about how to effectively implement Kognito simulations. 


For more information about our solutions for mental health and suicide prevention, we encourage you to explore our product suites for PK-12 and Higher Education.


Explore more articles from the Kognito blog: 

Scroll to Top