Online Program

Building the capacity of educators to support primary prevention and early intervention goals with youth at risk for psychological distress

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:06 a.m. - 11:24 a.m.

Glenn Albright, PhD, Department of Psychology, Baruch College of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ph.D., Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Jennifer Spiegler, BA, Marketing, Kognito Interactive, New York, NY
Background-Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Over half of mental illnesses emerge prior to adulthood, significantly impacting lifetime health, productivity and social well-being. Left untreated, mental illness results in increased absenteeism, lower academic performance, disrupted classroom behaviors and compromises school and community safety. The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation is implementing an online avatar-based training simulation with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to train educators in the identification and referral of students in psychological distress.

Purpose-To measure the impact of training that incorporates avatar-based role-plays to prepare educators to identify, approach and refer students in psychological distress.

Significance-Early identification and treatment of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse can increase quality of life, productivity and lower health care utilization costs. Equipping school-based adults with gatekeeper skills can make a tremendous impact on student mental health.

Data from 303 participants from 38 Ohio schools was analyzed using either a repeated measures analysis of variance or a matched sample t-test.

Results showed significant increases in recognizing signs of psychological distress; likelihood to approach and refer students in distress; and confidence in applying gatekeeper skills. Data from a second longitudinal study demonstrated the durability of learning three months after the training where all measures remained significant. There were also self-reported increases in the number of students recognized to be in psychological distress, approached, and referred for mental health counseling and an increase in the number of conversations among staff about students of concern.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the benefits and impact of online avatar-based training simulations that prepare educators to identify, approach and refer students in psychological distress

Keyword(s): Mental Health, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Gatekeeper training, suicide prevention, psychological distress, emotional distress, secondary education

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been closely involved in the development and implementation of the training simulation being presented as well as involved in the ongoing research that examines outcome measures. For the past seven years, my work has focused on the application of digital technology to solve public health concerns first as the Assistant Director of the Columbia University Center for New Media Teaching and Learning and now in the private sector at Kognito Interactive.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Kognito Interactive Suicide Prevntion Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 5138.0: Schools and Mental Health