Hussain Manawer has already tried and failed to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest mental health lesson, but using Conor McGregor’s comeback victory against Nate Diaz as inspiration, the poet is back trying it again. And bigger than before.
On March 21 Hussain and King’s College London’s Professor Dame Til Wykes will be at the Hackney Empire with around 600 secondary school students, hoping to tackle the stigma around mental health through education.
“I believe it’s one of the root, core problems to a lot of the issues we have in the world at the moment. If we can tackle this, we’d be able to face a lot more as a unit,” Hussain said.
The future astronaut, who’s heading into space in 2018 after winning the Rising Star award, has roped in more than a few famous faces to help along the way.
Music presenter and radio host Maya Jama will be on hosting duties, with Sinead Harnett and WSTRN among those expected to attend as schools from across the country try and help set a new record.
But it’s not the end goal for Hussain, who hopes his campaigning will see mental health education implemented more widely in schools. He wants this record attempt to show there’s an interest from schools and students.
“There was 325 kids at the last one, I think there’s gonna be 600 at this one, so that gives us next to a thousand students that we’ve been able to reach out to. It gives us stats and figures to show people like Ofsted and the education board, ‘this is the second time, x amount of students from x amount of schools are travelling to come here – they want to learn. So let’s allow them to learn, let’s include it’.”
The lesson will be live streamed, with Professor of Clinical Psychology and Rehabilitation Professor Wykes covering how to deal with depression, what anxiety is, the effects of stigmatising mental health, the effects of cyber-bullying, as well as discussing celebrities that have publicly faced and spoken about mental health.
For the record to be set there can be no mobile phones, no talking among students unless it’s an audience participation moment of the lesson, and it must last 60 minutes and be given by a mental health professional.
It’s a similar formula to the previous attempt, after which McGregor’s fight with Diaz encouraged him to try again.
“It just made me think if someone like him, who’s considered to be so brave and strong, and all of that stuff, he lost publicly, and then came back again. So if you don’t succeed first then try again,” he said.
And if the record isn’t broken this time? “If I have to catch an L, that’s what’s written for me. At least we’ll have reached 600 more people,” Hussain said.