New tool helps identify students in crisis

A new online mental health tool for Iowa State employees and students went live on July 1. The training program, offered through the New York-based Kognito company, offers mental health simulations to prepare individuals for real-life conversations. 

The simulation training was created by mental health experts and provides learning exercises using interactive role-playing scenarios. The program is partially funded by a Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant awarded to student wellness by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

One-time training sessions are tailored to either student or employee participants. Both are grounded in an effort to help individuals identify and engage with students who may be emotionally distressed. 

"The goal is to increase awareness in general about mental health -- that everyone has mental health," said Carrie Giese, prevention and health promotion coordinator in student wellness. "It helps identify students in distress so we're able to have a conversation and effectively refer them to the appropriate resources."

Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to participate in the training and can do so at anytime. All new incoming students are required to complete the training by Aug. 1 and returning students will be offered the training during the fall semester. 

Employee participation

To participate in the 45-minute session, employees should log in to Learn@ISU and use the search keyword "at-risk." A short post-training survey -- less than 10 minutes in length -- will be sent to participants two months after completion.

Faculty and staff can download a certificate of completion and earn 100 Adventure2 points at the conclusion of the training.

"ISU WellBeing is excited to partner with student wellness in offering the mental health training to support employee and student well-being," said Stephanie Downs, ISU WellBeing coordinator. "We are committed to caring for our university community and invite all employees to join us by participating in this training."