Psyched went along to support our friend the poet, future astronaut and relentless campaigner Hussain Manawer when he teamed up with Professor Dame Til Wykes of King’s College London to organise the largest mental health awareness lesson (single venue) on Tuesday.
Having narrowly missed out on setting the record a few months ago, stakes were high at the Hackney Empire in London, UK, where the event took place. However, the turnout was incredible and a record-setting 538 pupils from 14 local schools took part in the 30 minute class.
The Guinness World Records rules required the class to be taught in accordance with current national or international guidelines and be led by a suitably qualified health care professional. Clinical psychologist Dame Til Wykes was the woman for the job and made the lesson an engaging, interactive experience by giving the participants ‘TRUE’ and ‘FALSE’ cards to answer her questions during the class. Guinness World Records adjudicator Pravin Patel was on hand to count and verify the record.
The inspirational event was part of 24-year-old Hussain’s ongoing efforts to end the stigma of mental health.
Hussain said: “We’re over the moon to set this Guinness World Records title. Growing up in this day and age can be difficult. Young people nowadays have new challenges to contend with like social media, body image and physical appearance and cyber bullying. Mental health education is crucial to help many get through the early stages of their life and I am a great believer in this being put on the national syllabus. But for now, I can claim to have set the record for the world’s largest mental health lesson but I’m not going to stop here.”
As part of the event, Hussain performed a poem called “I’m Ashamed” from his upcoming EP that will be released during Mental Health Awareness Week in May.
Dame Til was also thrilled with the outcome: “Mental ill health affects everyone and we know that most adult mental health has its roots in childhood and adolescence. We want to empower and educate young people to know how to manage their mental health and what to do if they are worried about it. Just as importantly we want to raise awareness and so help to reduce stigma and enable young people to provide support to others. It is often the stigma and discrimination which prevents young people getting treatment early and we know that the earlier you get treatment the faster is recovery. Mental health should be on the curriculum to ensure this happens.”
A number of well-known faces attended the show, which was hosted by 4Music presenter Maya Jama. Celebrity guests included Eastenders actors Jonny Labey and Danny Boy Hatchard, rap stars WSTRN and Sneakbo, Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks, singer Sinead Harnett and YouTube personality Humza Arshad. There were also video messages from Piers and Susanna from ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Holly and Phil from ITV’s This Morning, Matthew Wright from Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, Gary Lineker from BBC1’s Match of the Day and Nina Hossein from ITV London News.
Asked if there are any records he would like to attempt in the future, Hussain said: “I don’t know what the creative aspect of it would be, but something along the lines of trying to tackle youth violence with a Guinness World Records association – something like most knives collected.”