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Open Access Virtual Role-play: Middle School Educators Addressing Student Mental Health

Objectives: In this study, we examined the impact of a virtual training program, Kognito At-Risk role-play simulation, on the mental health and suicide prevention gatekeeping skills of middle school educators. Methods: The validated Gatekeeper Behavior Scale was administered to 33,703 participants at baseline, post-training and follow-up. Helping behaviors were measured at baseline and follow-up. We also assessed preparedness, likelihood, and self-efficacy concerning leading conversations with youth about bullying and suicide. Results: Participants showed positive change from pre-test to 3-month follow-up on variables of interest. Hotelling's T2 test indicated that, as a set, gatekeeper attitudes of preparedness, likelihood, and self-efficacy differed between pre-test and post-test, F (3, 33,512) = 16,283, p < .001, η2 partial = .59. Number of students about whom gatekeepers were concerned (p < .05), number of students approached to discuss concerns (p < .001), and number of students referred to support services (p <.001) increased significantly with training. Conclusions: The At-Risk simulation shows promise in detecting and referring students in psychological distress, including risk of suicide. Fidelity is maintained because the program cannot be altered. At-Risk can be an effective and affordable way to provide suicide prevention training for those working in schools.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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