Making breathroughs

Licensed counselor joins campus twice a week

LPC Catie Egan

courtesy of Region 9

LPC Catie Egan

To increase student morale, Region 9 through the Mental Health Initiative appointed Catie Egan, a licensed professional counselor, to be on campus for two days of the school week, starting this semester. Egan is available Mondays and Wednesdays for elementary through high school in Room 147.
“Our school does an amazing job in athletics and academics, but one area we really wanted to grow in is the socioemotional side,” Dr. John Sherrill, junior high and high school principal, said. “If we’re able to provide resources to those students who need mental health care and resources outside the school setting, then we should, and Ms. Egan can direct them in this regard.”
Egan said she is excited to be here and that this position will be similar to a private practice but within the school.
“Everyone’s been so warm and welcoming, and I like that this position takes the barriers down from having to call and make appointments, drive to them and miss school,” she said. “It makes help more convenient and accessible for students, which is important.”
The Mental Health Initiative is a privately funded program that is operated out of Region 9 Education Service Center. Region 9 currently employs a program coordinator and eight licensed mental health professionals that are assigned to 26 campuses in their area, including Archer City.
“Our mission is to provide under served campuses access to qualified mental health professionals, localized mental health training and community resource connections,” Cristina McCrary, Coordinator of Mental Health Initiative, said.
A referral code and Egan’s information is posted on multiple flyers around the school that staff, students or parents can scan to fill out a form to start counseling. A packet of informed consent will need to be filled out by guardians.
“After all the initial paperwork’s done, I’ll go over it with the guardians and then the students,” Egan said. “Then sessions can begin.”
Everything is confidential with the exception if someone is going to hurt themself or others, as well as in cases of abuse or neglect. Egan said she will go into further detail when she visits with the students.
“I hope to follow the Mental Health Initiative’s goals and just do good,” Egan said. “My goal is to help students who are struggling with their mental health and just kind of be a support for students.”
Algebra teacher Rodney Wilson said gaining an LPC on campus is a terrific idea and compares her position to the school’s licensed professional trainer.
“In the same way that we have a licensed athletic trainer, where athletes can seek immediate physical treatment without having to go to a physician, a licensed counselor will allow students suffering from anxiety or depression to have almost immediate treatment,” Wilson said.


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Sherrill said the administration’s goal is for Egan to reach students who don’t feel comfortable coming to the office.
“We already have really good resources here like Leslie Graham, Jamie Krenek, Bradan Richey, and we do everything we can to meet the needs of students, but we understand that there are students who might need other outlets,” he said. “I think Ms. Egan is going to a great job of giving professional help that extends past the scope of what the school traditionally offered.”
Sophomore Cort Miller said he probably won’t be attending sessions with Egan, but thinks after a little while there could be results among the student body.
“Although I think it will take time for students to get used to or open up to a new person,” Miller said, “it’s cool that students have an available professional whose full attention is student mental health.”

Junior Jocelyn Watson said she attends counseling and is not considering changing to the school despite closer proximity.
“It will probably be beneficial to those who need help, but I don’t see myself or others visiting with her right away,” Watson said.
According to Sherrill, Region 9 reached out to principals in the region and the themes they heard were the fact that morale was taking a downward trend with social anxiety, anxiety and depression increasing after COVID-19.
“Our objective is that with Ms. Egan’s influence, those things will decrease,” Sherrill said. “I think the fact that students know they have an outlet, we’ll see growth on day one. Anytime we can provide a resource for that, it’s also going to create a healthy environment.”
Wilson said he believes the “warm up period” for Egan will be short.
“Because of our small town atmosphere, we all consider each other family,” he said. “I think Ms. Egan will be accepted closely and students who need help will be open to seeing her.”
Junior Kaydyn Ritchie said she will begin sessions with Egan this semester
“I considered counseling before, but never got around to it; however, with this opportunity arising, I had to give it a shot,” Ritchie said. “It will be nice to speak to someone whose sole purpose is student mental health counseling.”
Watson said she believes it will take some time before seeing more students attending sessions with Egan.
“I think there will be skepticism from students because it’s hard to trust a counselor who is still associated with the school,” she said.
Egan’s career trajectory is filled with counseling roles, starting off in an outpatient partial hospitalization psychiatric program for 10 years. She then worked in the college counseling center and taught human diversity at Midwestern State for a few years. Lastly she was a special education counselor at Wichita Falls ISD for one and half years.
“My passion is the overlap of mental health and education which is why I took this role,” Egan said. “I counsel at Windthorst other days of the week and travel the region doing different trainings and tasks. I’m thrilled to continue working in that overlap because it’s important work.”
According to McCrary, there is a huge shortage of available mental health services across the state.
“We believe by providing families and educators of Region 9 access to free, well-qualified mental health counselors this will translate to better mental health outcomes for all,” McCrary said. “We are so thankful that Catie Egan is representing our program at Archer City ISD, and has the opportunity to be a trusted resource for students and staff.”