Student Counseling Services is offering a new resource to educate students on how to interact with their peers who are struggling. Kognito Interactive allows users to create an avatar, then sets up different scenarios for the user to go through based on the module they choose.
The Kognito program is free for ISU students to use through 2015 and can be accessed by going to kognito.com/illinois and creating a new account. Each module takes about 30-45 minutes and users will earn a completion certificate for each.
“Students can choose between three modules: one for supporting students with suicidal thoughts, one for LGBT students and one for veterans,” Gina Meyer, staff psychologist, said.
“As they go through the given scenarios, they can choose through potential responses. The avatar they’re interacting with will respond based on their choices. Then a virtual coach will give feedback and rationale for why the avatar responded the way it did, as well as advice for what the best choices would have been and why.”
These modules teach students and staff how to have conversations that can sometimes be tough: for example, trying to feel whether a student is at risk for self-harm or suicide. “The program gives people some language to use with friends, peers or students they’re concerned about,” Meyer said.
The LGBT module teaches users how to create a supportive environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation; the veteran module instructs users on how they can help student veterans make the transition back into college life.
Kognito shows users how to give their peers support, but also teaches them the boundaries between offering their own advice and referring that peer to someone more qualified.
“It’s important to draw the lines between what you’re able to do and when you might be overstepping your boundaries,” Meyer said.
For example, when using Kognito, users are given the opportunity to diagnose the person they’re interacting with. Meyer stresses that this is something to avoid.
“Provide empathy and support, but know when to help your peer find resources.”
These resources might include Student Counseling Services or the PATH hotline for students dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, Pride and Diversity Advocacy for LGBT students and the Veteran Resource Center at ISU group for student veterans.
For more information, visit kognito.com or contact Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655.