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Astronaut-in-training 'over the moon' to set new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the World's Largest Mental Health Lesson

Posted on 21/03/2017

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Today poet, astronaut-in-training and mental health campaigner Hussain Manawer and King’s College London’s Professor Dame Til Wykes set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the World’s Largest Mental Health Lesson.

Over 500 schoolchildren from across the country descended on the world famous Hackney Empire and took part in a special interactive mental health lesson from Dame Til, covering depression, stigma, where to get help and how to maintain good mental health.

After the lesson Hussain Manawer performed a poem called ‘I’m Ashamed’ which is from his forthcoming EP to be released for Mental Health Awareness Week in May. The EP is a collection of poems produced with music. The event was hosted by 4Music presenter Maya Jama and featured special guests including Jonny Labey and Danny Boy Hatchard – EastEnders; Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks; singer Sinead Harnett and face of YouTube Humza Arshad. 

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Special video messages of support came 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 ITV London News’ Nina Hossein. Hussain Manawer is a relentless campaigner to end mental health stigma, travelling the world and using poetry as a means to relate to difficult topics such as 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.’

Professor Dame Til Wykes, is a world renowned Clinical Psychologist and academic specialising in involving people with mental health problems in research. She is Vice-Dean at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience which is a global leader in mental health research and education. 

Dame Til said: ‘I am thrilled we have set this record. 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.’ 

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The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS strict rules required participants to play close attention to the lesson; no mobile phones; no leaving their seats and paying attention at all times to the lesson. An army of independent stewards were present to ensure the rules were adhered to, as was GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator Pravin Patel who was on hand to deliver the results of the attempt immediately after the lesson ended. The tension was palpable as Pravin and the stewards gathered for the official count. To meet the record there had to have been 400 people fully engaged in a 30 minutes lesson. When Pravin Patel read the results it had been exceeded by 138, with a final count of 538 participants.

Hussain concluded: ‘When the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS adjudicator read the result the crowd went wild! But we couldn’t have done it without all the fantastic support we had, particularly the Hackney Empire, Maya Jama, the celebrities, Hussain’s House crew, Dame Til and King’s College London, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, but most of all, the cool schools and cool kids who know how important mental health is. 

'It’s incredible, when I was growing up I wish we had something like this, something so insightful, engaging, educating, and entertaining. I think it’s beautiful that in 2017 we can all come together from different backgrounds, and hold such a historic event for such a meaningful cause.'

The event was supported by the Hackney Empire, the Samaritans and Atelier Works.

For further information please contact: Louise Pratt, Public Relations and Communications Manager Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London 
Tel: +44 20 7848 5378/+44 7850 919020 Em: louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk

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