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College of Engineering embedded counseling make mental health services more accessible

At NC State, we take care of our Wolfpack. We’re committed to creating a caring culture that supports each student’s well-being. Through embedded counseling, we’re making mental health services more accessible and attuned to the unique needs of each of the university’s colleges.

The concept isn’t new. Years ago, NC State placed embedded counselors in areas like Athletics and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in response to the tight schedules and distance from Central Campus that made it difficult for student-athletes and veterinary medicine students to access the Counseling Center. Campus Health also has an embedded counselor who helps providers support students presenting symptoms of mental health conditions.

Embedding clinicians across campus was one of the recommendations made by the Student Mental Health Task Force in February. But even before the task force was formed, plans were in motion to expand embedded counseling to each of the colleges. Monica Osburn, executive director of the Counseling Center, had already begun looking into securing an embedded counselor for the College of Engineering, due to its location on campus and an anticipated rise in enrollment. Additionally, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) ran a successful embedded counseling pilot program two years ago. In January, CALS partnered with the College of Sciences to create a joint embedded counselor position serving both colleges’ students.

At the College of Engineering, embedded counselor Hannah Lavasque brings her passion for working with neurodiverse populations — particularly individuals with ADHD, OCD, autism spectrum disorder and sensory sensitivities — into her work. In graduate school, she took on neurodiversity-focused practicums and internships, including a position at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center. The facility is one of North Carolina’s three state-run centers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since joining the College of Engineering in December 2022, she and Miranda Liu, the other embedded counselor at the college, have completed a neurodiversity-affirming care training.

Hannah Lavasque, an embedded counselor at the College of Engineering.

“The embedded counselor job description was very neurodiversity forward, and I was excited to see this. Having the position be so neurodiversity-focused benefits the College of Engineering because, as an engineer, you almost need to think about the world in a different way,” said Lavasque. “And so people whose brains work a little bit differently than the way society expects them to, tend to gravitate toward fields like this. I was really excited that the college was aware they needed that type of support.”


A version of this story first appeared in NC State News.