Dr. Yvette Jackson of OSPF, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation held workshops at the June All-Staff meetings previewing Kognito’s Avatar- based training in best practice and response to middle and senior high teens experiencing emotional challenges. The avatars represent a concerned teacher and 3 student examples. The first student, Renee, is anxious and is self-harming by cutting. The second student is possibly suicidal, and the third, seems to have a behavioral/conduct disorder. Though this example helps educators and those working with teens learn a better response skill set, there are other very useful take-a-ways.
The team learned how easy it is to make a teen defensive, practicing statements with the avatar who expresses emotion-via tone of voice and facial expression. It is easy to pull up the ‘advice’ menu, or ‘undo’ button to check out a different response. By learning to reframe statements to not sound accusatory (‘I feel/think’ or ‘it seems’ vs. ‘you x, y, z’), to avoid exaggeration (always, never), and ask questions with specific examples in support of the statement one makes, staff quickly moved through the training guided by the presenter avatar and Dr. Jackson. In fact, this communication skill set applies to every situation- between friends, siblings, spouses, colleagues.
Kognito has avatar-based training for trauma-informed care, mental health training, middle and senior high, LGBTQ, college students, and veterans. The training is more accessible in its animated format than -say, cheesy acting in soap opera style videos and more timely.
For additional information, there are 20 minute demos of the avatar training by Kognito accessed by http://www.kognito.com. Middle and senior high school avatar training may be accessed through OSPF, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation website at http://www.ohiospf.org. A link to Gatekeeper training is in the upper right hand corner. You can simply set up your own user name and password or enter through your student’s school.
The important thing to remember is that you CAN make a difference and even the smallest act of caring could be an effective intervention and a significant difference in the life of a distressed individual.