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JED and Kognito Report Reveals College Faculty and Students Do Not Feel Prepared to Notice and Help Students In Psychological Distress

October 4, 2017

A survey of 14,584 faculty and staff members and 51,294 undergraduate students in 100+ U.S. colleges and universities found that more than half don’t feel adequately prepared to recognize, approach or recommend support services to students experiencing psychological distress – including depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. A report about the survey results, co-authored by The Jed Foundation (JED), a non-profit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults, and Kognito, a health simulation company, also revealed that more than 87% of participants say that it is part of their role as faculty, staff, or student to connect those at-risk students with mental health support services.

“We know that young people are likely to turn to friends and trusted adults such as parents and faculty when they are in distress,” said Dr. Victor Schwartz, JED Chief Medical Officer. “Thus, it is very important that faculty, staff and fellow students feel comfortable having a conversation about mental health and where young people can turn to seek help.”

The survey also found that:

  • 52% or more did not recognize ANY student exhibiting signs of psychological distress in the months prior to the survey.
  • 60% or more did not approach or refer ANY student exhibiting signs of psychological distress to mental health support services.

These findings are concerning considering that national data shows that nearly 1 out of every 3 college students has experienced some form of mental illness and that many college students who either contemplate or attempt suicide tell someone or show clear warning signs.

The survey participants completed the survey as the first step in taking Kognito’s evidence-based and interactive mental health simulation entitled “At-Risk” which was purchased by their institution to educate faculty, staff and students about mental health and how to speak with and help connect students experiencing psychological distress with support services.

“As a company that provides mental health training simulations to faculty, staff, and students, it is encouraging to see that more 87% of these users recognize that supporting fellow students experiencing psychological distress is part of their role,” said Glenn Albright, Ph.D., co-founder and Director of Research at Kognito. “This means that schools have the opportunity to leverage an engaged audience on campus to take an active role in reducing stigma about seeking help and connecting students with support services before it has an adverse impact on their health, academic performance, and retention rates.”

Survey details are available in a whitepaper titled “Are Campuses Ready to Support Students in Distress?” that can be downloaded here.

About Kognito
Kognito is a developer of role-play simulations designed to prepare people to lead conversations in real life that improve social, emotional and physical health. Kognito’s suite of mental health simulations for higher education institutions has been adopted by 300 schools to educate faculty, staff, and students about mental health and how to recognize, approach, and connect students experiencing psychological distress with support services. Kognito is the only company with health simulations listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Learn more at

About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.

Learn more at Check out our programs including: JED Campus (, Set to Go (, ULifeline (, Half of Us (, Love is Louder (, and Seize the Awkward (

Connect with JED:  EmailTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Manuela McDonough
Director, Media Relations

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The World Health Organization defines “mental health” “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” In using this definition, S2i recognizes that some mental health challenges reflect brain diseases that, like physical diseases, require appropriate stigma-free and patient-centered care and include both mental health and substance use disorders. Other mental health challenges stem from social conditions and marginalization and require different forms of interventions.