Grant funds mental health and suicide prevention training

The University of Oregon is launching a new online training tool to prepare students, faculty members and staff for conversations about mental health and suicide prevention.

Kognito is a web-based virtual conversation tool that teaches users how to recognize when someone is struggling and step in effectively. With a module for faculty/staff and another specific to students, the tool runs users through simulated, responsive scenarios that allow them to practice what to say and gives them relevant information on UO resources.

“We’re very excited that this tool is now available,” said Shelly Kerr, director of the University Counseling Center. “We know many college students struggle with mental health concerns, but they don’t always know how to get help. We want to create a community of care, where more people on our campus can identify the signs of a student in distress and feel confident starting a conversation.”

Each training begins with an introduction video, followed by interactive conversation scenarios and information on campus resources. The faculty and staff module takes around 45 minutes to complete, and the student version takes just over 30.

“We like that it’s a low barrier to access,” Kerr said. “You can take it on your own time, in well under an hour. The Counseling Center already offers a two-hour, in-person suicide prevention training and a more in-depth, two-day workshop, so Kognito rounds out the available options.”

The university purchased the program thanks to a federal grant in 2019. The Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant provides $100,000 a year over three years to facilitate a comprehensive approach to preventing suicide on college campuses.

The grant, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the result of a partnership between the Prevention Science Program in the College of Education and the University Counseling Center.

UO faculty members, staff and current students can log in with their university ID at to take the training.

For more information on Kognito or suicide prevention, visit the Counseling Center’s website or contact Suzie Stadelman, outreach coordinator and Suicide Prevention Team coordinator.