News | November 01, 2019

College of EducationCollege of Health & Human ServicesCommunityCultureEngagementNews

FGCU’s Caring for Kids looks at children’s mental health

Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is hosting a three-day event dedicated to the mental health and well-being of children and young adults. Slated for Nov. 7-9, the Caring for Kids conference features former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and mental health advocate Kai Koerber and parenting, child and bullying expert Michele Borba, Ed.D.

“We realize our children are struggling and our parents are realizing they need help addressing it,” said Alise Bartley, Ph.D., director of the Community Counseling Center at FGCU. “We wanted to launch this event to show the community that FGCU is a resource when it comes to our children and mental health.”

Speaking at two separate events Nov. 7-8, Borba will discuss her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s empathy and social-emotional intelligence and character, and reduce peer cruelty. Her book, “UnSelfie,” explores the 40 percent decrease in empathy and 58 percent increase in narcissism with our children. She has spoken in 19 countries on five continents and served as a consultant to hundreds of schools and organizations, including the Pentagon and 18 U.S. Army bases in Europe and the Asian-Pacific. Her proposal, “Ending School Violence and Bullying,” was signed into California law in 2002.

Kai Koerber

Kai Koerber, who presents Nov. 9, is the founder and president of a nonprofit corporation dedicated to placing mental health curriculum in schools. Koerber will share his experience as a Parkland student and how the tragedy compelled him to be an active voice in his community. Koerber found a way to move forward through his nonprofit. He will share his thoughts about placing mental health and mindfulness programs into schools and communities. Koerber will also look at how the skills this program offers – through its exercises, activities and lessons – will help surmount the challenges society will face in coming years.

“The theme on Nov. 9 is issues and activism related to mental health in our community,” said Diane Kratt, Ed.D., an instructor in FGCU’s College of Education. “We have a variety of presentations to choose from, including topics on addiction, domestic violence, LGBTQIA+ challenges, suicide prevention and more.”

All of the events are free and open to the public with a small charge for professional continuing education units. For more information and to register for Caring for Kids, visit