Kognito Clients to Present at the 20th Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health

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Placer County Office of Education and Fairfax County Public Schools to Address Use of Kognito’s Simulations as Part of Their Student Mental Health Programs


Kognito, a creator of digital experiences that prepare people for the conversations that matter most, announced today that its clients, Placer County Office of Education in California (PCOE), serving over 68,000 students in sixteen individual school districts across Placer County, CA, and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), the nation’s 10th largest school system, located in Fairfax County, VA, will present conference sessions at the 20th Annual Center for School Mental Health Conference on Advancing School Mental Health, being held November 5 – 7 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Conference Session 4 on Friday, November 6, 2015 from 9:40 – 10:40 a.m. will provide insight into California’s Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) that levied a tax to allow the state to engage in a number of highly innovative prevention and early intervention initiatives related to student mental health. Among the most innovative is the California Department of Education and the PCOE project to deploy Kognito’s Friend2Friend, a peer-to-peer mental health module for high school students that enables them to practice having a simulated conversation with virtual peers in distress while increasing their knowledge and awareness about mental health.

Michael Lombardo, M.A., Placer County Office of Education, Auburn, CA, will present “Using an Online App to Engage High School Students in Talking to Virtual Peers about Real Mental Health Concerns – California Case Study.” The session will include a demonstration of Friend2Friend and a discussion of the deployment strategies used to get educators and students involved in using it. Research results related to the effectiveness of the tool to change the knowledge, skill, attitudes and behavior of students will also be presented along with lessons learned throughout the process.

Conference Session 5 on Friday, November 6, 2015 from 10:50 – 11:50 a.m. will detail Fairfax County Public Schools’ measures to prevent youth suicide and how they strengthened their mental health resources after experiencing a number of student suicides at two Fairfax County public high schools. In collaboration with the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, FCPS embarked on this multi-faceted suicide prevention and mental health program.

The first phase of the response was ensuring all FCPS teachers and staff were equipped to identify and respond to students in distress. With the help of Kognito’s At-Risk in PK-12, a digital experience with virtual humans tailored for educators to gain knowledge and confidence in identifying and approaching students experiencing mental distress, more than 9,000 faculty and staff were given hands-on experience in suicide prevention and mental health early identification.

On behalf of Fairfax County Public Schools, Mary Ann Panarelli, Ph.D., director office of intervention and prevention, will co-present with Daryl Washington, Deputy Director, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board, the session “Fairfax County – How a County-District Partnership Successfully Trained Most of Its Teachers to Support Student Mental Health.” Panarelli and Yager will demonstrate Kognito’s At-Risk simulation and provide details on how FCPS partnered with other state and local agencies to implement a just-in-time, research-proven, high-fidelity program for educators, administrators, staff and community members to identify, approach and refer students who are struggling with psychological distress or thoughts of suicide.

“Both communities recognized a critical need to strengthen their mental health resources and take additional measures to prevent youth suicide,” said Ron Goldman, CEO of Kognito. “We are deeply gratified by the success they’ve had using Kognito’s At-Risk simulations to enable members of the communities to build the skills they need to effectively approach and support students experiencing mental distress.”

Kognito’s At-Risk in PK-12 simulations offer a series of online professional development modules designed for use by individuals, schools, districts, and statewide agencies. The scenario-driven programs were developed with mental health experts and educators to address common, relevant and realistic challenges with students. Simulation courses are tailored to three grade levels: elementary, middle years and high school. Friend2Friend presents a similar program geared for high school students, and can be included in curriculum or used in the programming of a club or other extracurricular activity.

About Advancing School Mental Health:
The conference will be hosted by the Center for School Mental Health (CSMH; funded by the Health and Resources Services Administration) and the IDEA Partnership (funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education). The Conference features thirteen specialty tracks, including special topic areas on funding and sustainability in school mental health and school substance use services. The annual conference offers speakers and participants numerous opportunities to advance knowledge and skills related to school mental health practice, research, training, and policy. The conference emphasizes a shared school-family-community agenda to bring high quality and evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention to students and families. The intended audience for the conference includes clinicians, educators, administrators, youth and family members, researchers, primary care providers, advocates, and other youth-serving professionals. Learn more at http://csmh.umaryland.edu/Conferences/AnnualConference/index.html.

About Kognito:
Kognito creates digital experiences that prepare people for the conversations that matter most. Our scientists, artists, and technologists use the latest principles behind neuroscience, social cognition, and game mechanics to create simulations where people can assess, improve and practice their ability to manage conversations so that they can make positive social, emotional and physical health improvements in real life. Kognito’s growing portfolio of simulations have been licensed by over 500 leading health, education, non-profit, and government institutions. The company’s science-driven and research-proven approach contributed to Kognito being the only company with digital experiences listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Learn more at http://www.kognito.com

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Laura Nelson
since: 07/2010
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