Have you ever been in a situation either professionally or personally where you thought someone might need help, but you weren’t sure what to do? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to practice having conversations to identify when someone needs help and the best ways to assist them? Now there is.

Kognito is a free online training tool that allows you to practice referring others—specifically students—to help for a variety of reasons and situations. The online modules feature six interactive and research-proven simulations designed to educate faculty, staff, and students on best practices for supporting students who struggle with psychological distress including depression and suicide, LGBTQ students struggling due to harassment or exclusion, and student veterans facing challenges in adjusting to college life. Each training takes approximately 30–60 minutes to complete.

The online modules are structured as a virtual practice environment where users learn by engaging in interactive role-play conversations with emotionally responsive student avatars. Users may complete Kognito from the faculty/staff point of view or as a fellow student. And while all Kognito situations involve students potentially in distress, the skills learned through the interactive modules are applicable to anyone you know that may need help.

Kognito is available for free to public and private schools in Illinois by the Illinois Youth Suicide Prevention Project, Illinois Department of Public Health through grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To access Kognito, go to Kognito.com/illinois and click “Create New Account.” Modules may be done individually or as a group activity.