Virtual Role-Play: Middle School Educators Addressing Student Mental Health
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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.