Kognito At-Risk for College Students certified by SAMHSA as effective way to identify mentally ill students in spite of lack of evidence.

Kognito At-Risk for College Students has been certified by SAMHSA as an evidence based practice. It is a half hour video that ostensibly helps train college students how to identify classmates with “psychological distress” and help them gettcare. SAMHSA cites a single study to justify it’s certification. But the ‘study’ is a single marketing brochure written by the manufacturer of the program. The brochure includes unsubstantiated non peer-reviewed claims by the program owner stating it works.

But even that claim is tenuous. SAMHSA says the programs improves student ‘prearedness’ to recognize, approach and refer other students with “psychological distress”. But there is no evidence that students were referred and whether or not the referrals were appropriate. And there is no evidence that students appropriately referred received any services. Like many programs certified by SAMHSA, this is a training program for people without mental illness and there is no evidence it helps people with mentalillness.

We have also questioned whether spending on identification is needed. It pre-supposes that people with serious mental illness are so asymptomatic that special training is needed to identify them. The opposite is almost always true.They are readily identifiable. Jared Loughner, who shot Gabrielle Giffords; James Holmes, who shot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Reagan; Aaron Bassler, who shot a former mayor of Fort Bragg, Calif.; Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who mailed explosive packages around the country; Ian Stawicki, who shot five others and then himself in Seattle; Eduardo Sencion, who shot five National Guardsmen at a Nevada IHOP restaurant; Russell Weston, who shot two guards at the U.S. Capitol building; and Adam Lanza, who shot his mother, 26 others, and himself in Newtown, Conn. — all were known to be ill before they became headlines. The problem wasn’t lack of identification. It was lack of treatment. This is the elephant in the room SAMHSA ignores.