Khara Croswaite Brindle graduated  from Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology master’s program in 2012 with a passion for helping and a keen ear for listening – and understanding – others. Today, she is a private practice licensed professional therapist with a focus on clients using Medicaid. At nights and on the weekends, she runs her own business developing an app to assess and prevent suicide.

“I saw a need for this assessment tool,” she said, as if this were the simplest thing in the world. “I want people who want to go ‘there’ to be able to have that tough conversation and be able to access resources to get help.”

By people who want to go “there,” she means teachers, coaches, case managers, anyone who may be in a professional position to see another person struggling but not be a clinical mental health professional. Her goal is to make the conversation about suicide easier to approach, easier to have, and easier to know what to do. Her app works like this. Said person (let’s call them the professional) sees another person struggling. Maybe they have every day contact, maybe they see them once a week, but they believe this person is having a hard time. They decide to broach THE question, the tough question, the one they know the answer to but maybe do not know what to do with the response.

“Do you want to kill yourself?”

“Are you suicidal?”

“Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?”

They bring up the app. The app is loaded with the suicide risk assessment, and the professional begins the heart-to-heart. Together, they talk, the professional listens, and they have the conversation. Once complete the app populates next steps, organizations to contact for additional help, where to find online and face-to-face support, and who to call for emergency assistance. It also goes one step further and populates resources based on factors such as age and geographical location. Currently its resources are for the entire state of Colorado.

Croswaite Brindle stresses that this app is not meant to be a total assessment. This is also not a one and done conversation. This app is meant to help on the spot and give the professional and the person hurting a beginning roadmap to intervention and recovery.

In her practice, Croswaite Brindle regularly works with at-risk populations. This is a conscious decision to provide the best possible care to patients with Medicaid. She works with teenagers, single parents, individuals struggling with gender identity, veterans; she works with regular, everyday people who are struggling and each and every day her goal is to provide them with the best possible care.

“I think my cohort at Morgridge helped to frame my career now,” she said. “My class graduated and we were so excited to get out and be agents of change.”

An agent of change she is. Already her app is in use and under development. She has started to work with the Mental Health Center of Denver and run workshops with other professionals to continue to build resources and continue to assess risk factors. She considers Colorado to be her pilot state, but her long-term goal is to have the application be used nationwide and endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Through it all, she stays in contact with her professors at Morgridge. Now colleagues in the field, she finds their support and encouragement invaluable.

“My connections are wonderful to have,” she said. “It’s been great to continue to collaborate and exciting for me to see the cohorts grow. I definitely am a proud Morgridge alum, and someday I hope to be back in some capacity.”

Back as in, getting a PhD, teaching the next generation of mental health professionals?

“I can see all of that,” she smiles. “Someday.”

More information about the app can be found at Cacs-co.com.

Dr. Patton O. Garriott joined the Morgridge College of Education as an Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology in 2012 after receiving his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri and completing his pre-doctoral internship at the University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. Dr. Garriott’s work focuses on those who are underserved, underrepresented, and excluded in higher education and specific career domains. He is currently a Co-Investigator on a $1,491,909 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that will examine the persistence of women and Latinas/os in engineering. Dr. Garriott teaches several courses in the Master’s and Doctoral program in Counseling Psychology, including Multicultural Counseling, Ethics and Research seminars. He is a strong believer in mentorship and providing students with opportunities to “learn by doing.”

As the Director of the Career and Social Attitudes Lab, Dr. Garriott and his research team are working on several projects. His most recent work has focused on first-generation college students’ academic and career development as well as students of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Within the former domain, Dr. Garriott is examining predictors of first- and non-first-generation college students’ academic and life satisfaction. Given recent increases in first-generation college students’ attendance at institutions of higher education and their disproportionate non-persistence rates, this research could have implications for ensuring the success of this underserved student group. Dr. Garriott’s research in the area of STEM careers has focused on prospective first-generation college students as well as Mexican American high school and college students. The goal of this line of research is to help end the disproportionate overrepresentation of whites and males in growing occupational sectors that offer opportunities for social mobility. In addition to uncovering pathways to success for underrepresented groups, Dr. Garriott also believes in the necessity of interrogating privilege to foster social change. His research in this area has examined the efficacy of various approaches to multicultural education among white college students and explanatory mechanisms by which they work (e.g., guilt). Dr. Garriott and members of his research lab have been successful publishing their research in peer-reviewed journals as well as delivering presentations at national conferences.

In the future, Dr. Garriott plans to investigate help seeking behaviors among historically underrepresented students in higher education as well as socioeconomically distressed individuals. He continues to have an active research lab of around 10-15 Master’s and Doctoral students and welcomes student interest in research. Dr. Garriott is also working in collaboration with faculty from Higher Education and Sociology as well as the DU Center for Multicultural Excellence to qualitatively examine student perceptions of campus climate at DU. He hopes this work can have an impact at the macro level and inform institutional practices around inclusion and equity.


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