North Carolina School District Uses Computer Software To Better Recognize Student Mental Health Issues

CHARLOTTE, NC –  North Carolina school districts are working to better help students with mental health issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

A training program is catching on in the Carolinas and being used to help educators work with students virtually.

“The pandemic has heightened mental health challenges. The isolation that individuals have felt,” explained Dawn Bornheimer with Kognito.

Kognito is a company that creates software to train educators to better communicate and recognize mental health issues in students.

“We took instructional design and the art of conversation and created a learning platform that gives people a safe opportunity to practice evidence based conversation skills,” explained Bornheimer.

The program walks educators through a series of role playing scenarios.

“Allow them to have a better conversation in real life especially when they recognize perhaps signs of distress in one of their students,” said Bornheimer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Since the pandemic began, mental health related hospital visits have increased by 24 percent in children aged 5 to 11 and 31% in children aged 12 to 17.

The Kognito program is being implemented In Robeson County, where mental health issues are also rising.

“Maybe it’s not to the point where it’s an actual crisis or a major issue, but maybe they just need a little extra support to keep from getting to that point,” said Megan Collins,  the Robeson County Schools Counseling Coordinator.

She says going through virtual training allows teachers and counselors to better recognize signs of internal struggle, even at a distance.

“These simulations are helping us be better prepared for situations where we can provide hope,” said Collins.