The Cook Center for Human Connection Co-Sponsors National Mental Health Cohort for District Leaders

The Utah nonprofit will provide leadership of the cohort, along with free resources for students, parents, and educators

Salt Lake City, UT — The Cook Center for Human Connection, a Utah-based nonprofit dedicated to eradicating suicide and advocating for mental wellness for everyone, today announced its co-sponsorship of a Mental Health Cohort created in conjunction with AASA, the School Superintendents Association and the Jed Foundation. The purpose of the group is to connect district leaders committed to serving the mental health of students, educators, and their communities. 

The Mental Health Cohort will be led by Anne Brown, the president and CEO of the Cook Center; Paul Imhoff, the superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools in Ohio as well as a past president of AASA; and Rebecca Benghiat, president and CEO of the Jed Foundation. 

“We invite superintendents, district staff, building leaders, and other educational leaders to join the AASA Mental Health Cohort,” said Brown. “Participants will connect with fellow leaders and collaborate in creating resources that every school district can use to address the mental health needs of their communities.”

As the U.S. grapples with a nationwide increase in anxiety and depression, the Cook Center is meeting with students, educators, and families around the country to understand their biggest mental health issues. In response to feedback from district leaders who find mental health initiatives difficult to fund and implement in schools, the Cook Center is providing support in a number of ways. 

  • offers parents free tools to engage their children in difficult conversations about issues including suicide, substance abuse, and body image. 
  • To help teenagers who are struggling with mental health, “ My Life is Worth Living” is an animated series, available as a youth resource on the 988Lifeline, that tells five powerful stories about teen characters wrestling with challenges and discovering strategies to cope—with the help of parents, teachers, coaches, and friends. 
  • The Cook Center is also offering $5,000 matching grants to help schools build “ Calm Rooms,” where students who become agitated in class can cool down and give their bodies and emotions time to reset.

Participants in the Mental Health Cohort will work with others in national leadership positions to develop strategic plans that increase mental health services and support for all constituents. They will hear from expert practitioners and researchers about actions that have a positive impact, and connect with national organizations that are providing mental health support to schools. Every member will have access to resources and services to help them develop action plans for their district.

Qualified candidates are invited to register as soon as possible. Meetings have already begun, and will be held quarterly, both virtually and in person. 

About The Cook Center for Human Connection

The mission of the Cook Center for Human Connection is to bring together the best organizations, programs, and products to prevent suicide, provide mental health support, and enhance the human connections vital for people to thrive. The foundation’s current focus is on supporting children, families, and schools in eradicating suicide, as well as offering resources and support for those with mental health issues and their caregivers. This is done through a variety of grants to schools, programs for parents, and global resources to bring greater awareness to the support needed for those affected by mental health needs and suicide. Their no-cost resources created to prevent suicide include (for teens) and (for adults, families, and caretakers). Learn more about the non-profit at The Cook Center for Human Connection.

About AASA 

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA members range from chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators to cabinet members, professors and aspiring school system leaders. AASA members are the chief education advocates for children. AASA members advance the goals of public education and champion children’s causes in their districts and nationwide. As school system leaders, AASA members set the pace for academic achievement. They help shape policy, oversee its implementation and represent school districts to the public at large. Their website includes contact information, AASA’s governance activities, advocacy initiatives, membership, conferences and meetings, program and resource development, and more. 

About The Jed Foundation

JED empowers teens and young adults by building resiliency and life skills, promoting social connectedness, and encouraging help-seeking and help-giving behaviors through our nationally recognized programs, digital channels, and partnerships, as well as through the media. JED strengthens schools by working directly with high schools, colleges, and universities — representing millions of students — to put systems, programs, and policies in place to create a culture of caring that protects student mental health, builds life skills, and makes it more likely that struggling students will seek help and be recognized, connected to care, and supported. We mobilize communities by providing education, training, and tools to families, friends, media, and others.

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