Eric Perry

(Harlan, Ky.) – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition. In an effort to combat the rise in mental health related issues among students, the Harlan Independent School District has added a full-time School Based Mental Health Counselor to their staff.

 With three full-time school guidance counselors already in place at each school, Superintendent C.D. Morton, noted the additional counselor will focus their attention on issues that are normally beyond the scope of traditional school guidance counselors.

Mr. Eric Perry, former Center Director of Cumberland Behavioral Health will step into the role of School Based Mental Health Counselor at Harlan Independent. With more than two decades of professional counseling experience, Mr. Eric Perry, has been selected to lead this work. Mr. Perry is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and has extensive experience in working with youth.

According to Superintendent Morton, after a short retirement Mr. Perry was eager to begin working with students, families, and staff members. “We were pleased when Mr. Perry expressed an interest in the position. We feel fortunate that we were able to find someone with an extensive background in the area of need and holds the proper qualifications. There is currently a dramatic shortage of qualified workers in this field, so naturally we were concerned about getting the right person. I am confident, together, we are going to be able to positively impact the lives of our students.”

“What a tremendous asset to have for our students and families, especially coming off the pandemic. Schools across the country are dealing with issues we have never had before and kids and families are really grappling with a wide range of social and emotional problems. When the grant funding became available, we jumped on the opportunity and were fortunate to be selected. This position gives us another resource to impact our students in a positive way. Our School Based Mental Health Counselor will focus their attention on our most severe students and families, while also working to increase awareness among staff related to Trauma-Informed Approaches in school settings.”

The position is funded through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and was secured by the Harlan FRYSC.

With grant funding expected to last through the 2023 school year, Morton noted the importance of securing the right person for the position as quickly as possible. “It was critical that we selected a person who could hit the ground running on day one, someone with experience in the kinds of issues we are seeing in our students, and who is established and qualified. This gives us the best chance to see a difference in our students.”

In addition to helping students and families, Mr. Perry will lead the integration of the Trauma Informed Approach in our classrooms and schools. The initiative is designed to help raise awareness around trauma, school climate, and trauma exposed students and ultimately help support critical learning and foster a positive and safe school environment for every student in the Harlan Independent School District.

Mr. Perry will serve the faculty, students, and families across the Harlan Independent School District. Perry’s office will be located at Harlan Middle School and he can be reached at or 606-573-8700 extension 3.