The USC Academic Culture Assembly will continue to execute its plans for its third annual Mental Health Awareness Month in October with eight events, including student panels and interactive attractions. The MHA events will run through the month of October.
According to the ACA, the organization aims to initiate important conversations that destigmatize and explore the intense complexity of mental health.
Communications Director Abigail Jackson said the assembly aims to reveal how mental health is a pervasive issue in University culture throughout October, even if struggles individuals face are not always visible.
“With mental health, you could see someone on the street and not see any markers of [mental health issues],” Jackson said. “In a lot of ways, that could be pretty isolating for someone who is struggling with mental health problems, because they don’t see anyone else struggling with the same thing.”
Every year, the topics and conversations surrounding Mental Health Awareness Month are centralized under a main theme. Last year’s topic focused on self-care and community care, while this year, the assembly’s topic is “Uncovering Hidden Wounds: Recognizing and Sharing Our Mental Health Stories.”
Jeffrey Cho, ACA’s financial director, explained how this year’s theme will feature current USC students and professionals to discuss their own mental health experiences and resources.
“This year, we wanted to focus on highlighting student experiences with their mental health journeys,” Cho said.
For example, one of the first events held emphasized the recognition of one’s mental wounds. During this event, the ACA hosted a panel of counselors and psychiatrists from the Engemann Student Health Center to discuss specific symptoms and coping mechanisms for different mental illnesses, bolstering awareness for others and themselves.
Cho explains how the programming intends to reach all audiences, but it especially focuses on freshmen who may find the resources helpful during their first year.
“We are trying to also consider the freshmen that are going through this big and kind of scary transition of being an adult for the first time,” Cho said. “They should be comfortable tackling mental health issues and owning their first year here at USC.”
On Tuesday, the ACA will host a panel of students who hold executive positions of different organizations to discuss their experiences with mental health. According to Cho, the purpose of the event is to show how all kinds of students struggle with mental health and destigmatize the conversation surrounding it.
Due to the magnitude of this event, the planning for MHA began over the summer under the direction of Mental Health Awareness Month Director Jamie Wu, along with two assistant directors, Dennis Woo and Cynthia Jiang. Over the past few months, they have been reaching out to professionals, students and speakers on campus and beyond.
The organization will hold a Mental Health Resource Fair on Oct. 24 on Trousdale Parkway from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide students with more information about resources from organizations on campus.
“We want to have programming that is widely accessible to every USC student and have events that are relevant to every student, especially so we can have USC students be aware of the greater picture behind the various issues we are hosting events about,” Cho said.