New Libraries Embedded Counselor Delivers Heightened Access to Student Mental Health Support

By Marketing and Communications | 03-27-2024

Sandra Olshak Standing Outside Evans Library & Annex
Sandra Olshak, Texas A&M Professional Counselor, Outside Sterling C. Evans Library & Annex


As Texas A&M students approach the stressful season between midterms and finals, Texas A&M University Libraries is supporting Aggie mental health through Sandra Olshak, a professional counselor serving students from a Sterling C. Evans Library office.

“Attending to mental health is critical for students, because if your mental health is struggling or suffering, then everything else in life tends to be a struggle,” said Olshak, a University Health Services counselor who began seeing students in Evans beginning in the fall 2023 semester.

To bring mental health services to an “everyday” location, University Health Services and Libraries leadership collaborated to establish Olshak’s office in Evans Library.

“Sandra has been a perfect fit for us,” said Julie Mosbo Ballestro, university librarian and assistant provost. “I want students to think of the Libraries as a main resource hub for all their needs, including mental and emotional health. If those needs aren’t met first, it makes it very difficult for students to accomplish the rest of their goals. I know Sandra feels the same way.”

Olshak considers mental health foundational and has trained library staff on how to notice students who appear to be in distress and need her support. She said the staff have the students' best interest in mind, and she is thankful to work with colleagues so committed to supporting student success at the Libraries.

As the semester enters its second half, Olshak said self-care tends to decrease, but getting enough sleep, getting fresh air, being physically active and eating healthy foods can be important strategies to support mental wellbeing.

“If I could only give one piece of advice to a college student ever again in life, it would be to find a way to sleep,” Olshak said. “Do not sacrifice your sleep. I know a day here or there is going to happen, but to the extent that you can, you need to sleep. Getting enough sleep helps you cope.”

A Central Location

Olshak’s centrally located office location provides a high level of convenience for students interested in counseling.

“A lot of students tell me ‘I just had class right across the street,’” Olshak said. “Some of them tell me this gives them a reason to get up and come to the library. They say that if they have an early appointment with me, they’re more likely to stay and study afterward.”

Olshak believes the convenience and familiarity associated with Evans Library — a “home away from home, “ as she called it — leads students to feel more comfortable and open.

“I think there might be a lower stigma of coming to a campus building that is not attached to mental health care in general,” Olshak said. “I think that is one of the main things I've heard the Libraries try to do: provide a safe spot, a great environment where people want to go.”

Nathan Ellison, a licensed professional counselor at University Health Services, said the added convenience of counselors embedded throughout campus has seemed to reduce stress among students. He said they are strategically located within schools, colleges, and population hubs, giving the counselors a direct connection to students and a better understanding of the unique stressors they face.

“Our goal is to connect students with the help they need, where they need it,” Ellison said. “Having embedded counselors walking alongside students in their own environments can mean increased convenience, enhanced awareness and overall heightened comfort with accessing mental health care.” 

Olshak said she enjoys working with a population in such an important developmental stage. 

“Texas A&M students are really special people,” Olshak said. “They are great to work with and are fantastic about coming in and working on what they need to work on to improve themselves to be the best students and people they can be. They are an impressive group of people.”

Where to Go

Most of Olshak’s time is allocated for appointment-based counseling, but she also offers Let’s Talk from 1-3 p.m. every Wednesday in her second-floor Evans 1.204F office. Let’s Talk allows students to chat informally with counselors about general mental health topics and available resources on a walk-in basis. For counseling appointments with Olshak, students can visit

In addition to its embedded liaisons, University Health Services supports student physical and mental health in two locations: the A.P. Beutel Student Health Center and the Student Counseling and Mental Health Care Center. Information on resources and appointments is available at 979.458.4584 and, which also features self-help materials and information about after-hours mental and physical health support options.

For after-hours mental health peer support, students and those concerned about students may call HelpLine at 979-845-2700. HelpLine provides peer support, information, crisis intervention and referrals from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours per day on weekends when classes are in session. 

Rounding out after-hours mental health support for Texas A&M students, the TELUS Health Student Support app provides 24/7 access to professional counseling by phone or chat in multiple languages in addition to mental health assessments and a self-care content library — all free and confidential. 

Students  experiencing an emergency or life-threatening situation should call 911 or visit their nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available by calling 988. Visit for more information on mental health resources available at Texas A&M University.


2024 Texas A&M University Embedded Mental Health Counselors


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Written By: Matthew Kennedy | Media Contact: Matthew Kennedy,

About Texas A&M University Libraries

Comprising five unique libraries, the Texas A&M University Libraries are a hub of resources, spaces and professionals supporting the success of research, learning and teaching. The Libraries’ advance student success and partner in innovative research, while providing a physical and digital home to all students, staff, faculty and researchers. To learn more visit

About Texas A&M University Health Services

University Health Services empowers Texas A&M students through integrated care that supports their physical and mental health. As part of Texas A&M Health, students receive the highest level of care in medicine, counseling, prevention and Emergency Medical Services that fosters their academic, personal and professional success. University Health Services operates from two central locations — the A.P. Beutel Student Health Center and the Student Counseling & Mental Health Care Center — in addition to supporting counselors embedded throughout the Texas A&M System in locations ranging from the University Police Department and the College of Engineering at the Texas A&M main campus to the Texas A&M Higher Education Center at McAllen.  Visit to learn more.