Amidst midterm season and World Mental Health Awareness Day, one USC student organized a “Stress Scream and Naruto Run” event on McCarthy Quad Thursday afternoon.
“Naruto running” is a specific way of running inspired by the anime character Naruto. The character runs with his arms extended backward as his body propels forward. The move has become a popular meme and frequent gathering activity.
Civil Engineering major Bryceton Scurr hosted the event and drew the interest of a handful of stressed USC students.
“I just thought it was a fun way to get some stress relief,” said Kat Xu, a theatre major in attendance. “We’re in the middle of midterm [season]. It’s a really good time.”
October 10th happens to be both World Mental Health Awareness Day and Naruto’s birthday. However, Scurr admitted to being unaware of both dates and, instead, simply wanted to help struggling students.
“[The date of the event] is a happy accident,” said Scurr. “I try to be someone who acknowledges every day struggles, and that they do add up and we need an outlet. I figured screaming would be one way.”
In lieu of the World Mental Health Awareness Day and its campaign to fight against the social stigma associated with mental health problems, preserving and maintaining a healthy stress level seems to be a topic of importance for many college students. A study from the Keck School of Medicine revealed that 24% of USC students had moderate to severe anxiety, while 28% of students had moderate to severe depression.
In response to these mental health issues and a disproportionately higher number of mental health crises in October, the university implemented a fall break in mid-October to offer relief to students from academic stress.
Although USC does provide counseling and mental health programs for its students through Engemann, the student health center has faced criticism from students for making the process of finding therapy very difficult, as 70% of students reaching out for mental health aid were referred to therapists outside of campus.
USC has since added 12 new mental health providers.
“The student health center has ways to approach [mental health], but there’s obviously a long way to go just because as a culture of society it is very stigmatized,” said Xu.
The negative connotation surrounding mental health is something USC students have proven to be passionate about with student organizations like Change the Stigma and student-led events like the one held on Thursday. Students are intent on tackling the issue of college stress together.
“I feel a little bit less stressed when I know other people are also going through something similar because then it normalizes it,” said Scurr. “It feels less stigmatized, less like there’s a problem with me and more just like a problem with we have a lot of stuff to do.”
There is no universal remedy for students dealing with mental health issues, but updates to how USC handles the mental health of its students and events like supervised screaming can be therapeutic for the purpose of relieving short-term stress.