BOG emphasizes importance of mental health

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The Florida Board of Governors held an in-person meeting this week on the campus of Florida A&M University. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, board members were socially distanced while other members and the public joined the meeting via Zoom.

The Florida State University System of has requested that all faculty and staff complete a mental health course through a program called Kognito. More than 70,000 faculty and staff members in the SUS have been trained through the Kognito assessment.

Christy England, vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, explained the future of the Kognito assessment moving forward. “The system plan going forward is to continue to require training for all new employees,” England said. “We will also work with the Council for Student Affairs to monitor student wellness via the annual updates to the student wellness dashboard each fall.”

Kognito is a mental health literacy program designed to train faculty and staff to increase awareness, and build knowledge and skills related to mental health and suicide prevention. The evidence-based training allows for faculty and staff to learn the causes of psychological distress, how it affects college students and various ways to refer students to mental health services.

The BOG would like for SUS institutions to have a 95% Kognito completion rate by faculty and staff with a minimum of  90% completion.

To ensure assessment completion throughout faculty and staff across the state, board member Brian Lamb suggested ways to successfully do so.

“Not only is leadership accountable, the Board of Trustees need to have this in their meeting,” Lamb said. “This should be a topic that they highlight in terms of their performance.”

Florida A&M University Vice President for Student Affairs William Hudson Jr., said the university will have all faculty and staff complete the mental health training.

“FAMU will assess those faculty and staff that have not completed the assessment, and strongly encourage completion with support from the FAMU Board of Trustees, President Robinson, Provost Edington and support from the Faculty Senate,” Hudson said.

Florida A&M currently holds a 89% faculty and staff completion rate, according to Hudson.

Hudson told BOG that FAMU’s administration has discussed having mental health recharge days for the university’s students, faculty and staff.

It is all of our responsibility to support the mental health of our students, faculty and staff,” Hudsonsaid.