DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire is boosting efforts to prevent suicide and reduce the stigma around mental illness.
The university is using a $100,000, three-year grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand an online training system. The program lets faculty, staff and students hold simulated conversations with computer-generated avatars to learn how to better identify and refer at-risk students.
Currently, the UNH Counseling Center offers four programs through the Kognito system, including those that address specific groups such as veterans and the LGBTQ community.
“People can be understandably apprehensive about talking about and asking questions of someone about their mental health, and Kognito is a great introduction into how to start the conversation and how to access resources on campus,” said Sean Moundas, staff psychologist.
Officials say the grant also will allow for more programing on suicide prevention and mental health for students from under-represented or marginalized groups.
The university also is participating in the national “Know the 5 Signs” campaign, which describes the five signs someone may need help: Their personality changes; they seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody; they withdraw or isolate themselves; they stop taking care of themselves or engage in risky behavior; or they seem overcome with hopelessness.