OKLAHOMA CITY – Every student at EPIC Charter Schools will now have access to mental health counseling thanks to a partnership between EPIC and YouthCare of Oklahoma and YCO Alliance.

The initiative, which includes free counseling for EPIC students, was announced in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

Additionally, EPIC faculty and staff will continue to have access to free counseling sessions from Chance to Change, an Oklahoma City-based mental health and substance abuse counseling nonprofit with 40 years of experience. Services can be utilized in person but are guaranteed via phone or video conferencing. Employees also have access to online courses pertaining to self-care and mental health awareness.

EPIC Superintendent Bart Banfield said the time has come to end the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health issues, especially in the state’s school systems.

According to the most recent data (2017) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide ranked as the eighth-leading cause of death in Oklahoma. The state has the 15th highest suicide rate among the 50 states. Nationally, in the same year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 7.4 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported at least one suicide attempt in the last 12 months.

If  you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.