How Does MBU  Help Students Adjust and Thrive? Meet Counselor Sarah Brown

Mary Baldwin’s new director of counseling and psychological services is leading the university’s approach to supporting students’ mental health.

Sarah Brown, LPC, joined Mary Baldwin University as the new director of counseling and psychological services this spring. As MBU’s resident counselor, she will provide on-campus counseling and mental health services to students and support MBU’s existing mental healthcare infrastructure.

Brown comes to MBU from her most recent position at Turner Ashby High School as a mental health clinician. She takes mental health seriously, and particularly prizes aiding young people with navigating their life changes while preserving their wellbeing. Surprisingly, however, Brown had an indirect path to this role as counselor at MBU.

Originally from Strasburg, Brown initially worked in the legal system. She earned her BA in English from the University of Virginia and her JD from George Mason University. Then, Brown came to Staunton and worked as a public defender.

During her time as a practicing lawyer, Brown noticed that she represented a lot of the same clients, and many had something in common. That shared reality had nothing to do with the law — it was a crisis in mental health.

This realization inspired Brown to change her career. She traded the world of prosecutors and judges for one of personal connection that centers the people who need help.

While Mary Baldwin still provides 24/7 mental health services to all students through a partnership with online provider TimelyCare, Brown will be an on-campus resource for students who need help, either urgently or routinely.

“I think that everyone can benefit from talking with someone, especially while they’re young and dealing with class, adulthood, and relationships,” Brown explains. “I think that a lot of my passion for this work comes from how proud I am of my work as a parent.” 

Brown has three children, a stepdaughter with her husband (who still works as a lawyer in Harrisonburg), a daughter studying politics at George Washington University, and a son in high school. She’s truly connected to adolescents and young adults — another boon she brings to the Mary Baldwin community. 

The counseling and psychological services office, located in Blakely House above the campus Health Center, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on any day classes are in session. Students can make appointments or drop in to speak with Brown and receive one-on-one counseling whenever they wish to.

“College is the perfect time really start paying attention to mental health. Mental health doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time — it means you respond appropriately to every situation you’re in,” says Brown. And she’s here for MBU students to help with these adjustments.

If you’re experiencing a mental health emergency, don’t wait for the Student Health Center and Brown’s office to open to seek help. If you’re in crisis, immediately call for help from 911, the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988, or MBU campus safety at 540-887-7000.