Hussain Manawer is trying to set the record for the world's largest mental health lesson


Next week, 500 students from across England will gather in Ilford Town Hall for what poet and campaigner Hussain Manawer hopes will be a record-setting mental health lesson.

A Guinness World Records adjudicator will be at the event on Thursday and a number of celebrities - including Gary Lineker, Susanna Reid, Piers Morgan and Jamie Laing - have lent their support to the campaign via video. Singer Sinead Harnett will also talk at the event.

"Young people nowadays have new challenges to contend with like social media, body image in the media and even cyber bullies," Hussain explained. "Mental health education is crucial to helping many get through the early stages of their life and I am a great believer in mental education being put on the national syllabus. But for now, I've decided to host my own lesson with the hopes of raising awareness and hopefully making it relatable."

Hussain, who's due to travel into space in 2018 after winning the Rising Star award, has spent the past year campaigning for improved mental health education - and believes that without it young people are left to deal with issues they may not fully understand.

"It provides us with the tools and answers that we need. If I knew from early how to deal with depression, how to deal with anxiety - going into exams, going into loads of things it wouldn't be as stressful," he said.

"So not only does it reduce the stigma but it empowers us as people to face situations head on. When you're educated about something you're more open to talk about it.

"You need to be able to articulate and have an opinion, and to know what you're dealing with."

Hussain Manawer giving a speech
(Hussain Manawer)

The lesson will be taught in association with King's College London, with Dame Til Wykes, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Rehabilitation, leading the session. She'll address topics such as dealing with depression, the stigma surrounding mental health and how to maintain a balance mentally.

Toby Brown, whose solo exhibition at Notting Hill's Debut Contemporary was done in association with mental health charity MIND, will be unveiling a portrait at the lesson, and exploring how art can act as a form of therapy.

For the lesson to set a new world record all students will have to remain engaged throughout, and mobile phones are, obviously, not allowed.

Good luck!