By Alex Distefano
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According to Kognito CEO Ron Goldman, the mistakes that faculty members make when they play the game are what will improve their capacity to interact with students in their own offices. He compares At-Risk to "a regular video game, in which you learn that if you hide behind the wall you're not going to get shot at. The more times I give you to experience that pattern, the more times you're going to internalize it."
For Báez, At-Risk is meant to complement the programs she has created since arriving at Lehman in 2004, including one that invites first-year students to the counseling center to take an inventory to assess their study strategies. "It introduces freshmen to the counseling center without it being a mental health issue," she says. "And then they share mental health issues, and they're referred to a counselor." She has also created a series of workshops, which range from "Healing Writing and Art" to "Healthy Relationships" and "Procrastination," and frequently dispatches her five peer educators—Lehman undergraduates with an interest in psychology—to the cafeteria, where they distribute flyers with titles including "Depression Action Management Action Plan" and "How You Can Help a Suicidal Friend."
"We get a lot of glances," says peer educator Amanda Alvarado, sitting at a table set up in the campus cafeteria. "A lot of people who look at it and walk past. But you'll see them at the counseling center later."
Báez hopes that most Lehman students won't be averse to interacting with professors who are more attuned to warning signs and better equipped to address them. "To have someone study me would be kind of weird," says Lehman junior Gytzel Aguilar. "But for someone going through depression, it would be nice to have an instructor care about you. For those people, who everything is overwhelming for, it would be nice to have someone say, 'What's going on? Are you doing OK?' "