Guinness World Record set with help from Samaritans

Samaritans volunteers joined celebrities, academics and nearly six hundred secondary school pupils at London’s Hackney Empire on Tuesday (21 March) to help set a World Record for the planet’s biggest lesson in mental health.

The idea was the brainchild of Samaritans supporter (as well as performance poet, YouTuber, mental health campaigner and astronaut-in-training) Hussain Manawer. 

Ahead of the attempt, good luck video messages were played from a range of celebrities including Holly Willoughby, Gary Lineker, Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Harry sending their good wishes and stressing how important it is to talk about mental health.

Hosting alongside Hussain was 4Music presenter Maya Jama who introduced teacher for the day King’s College London’s Professor Dame Til Wykes, an expert in clinical psychology and rehabilitation. Students sat mesmerised through a high impact 45-minute session in the symptoms, causes, and treatments for mental health problems with Guinness World Record officials monitoring to ensure every single pupil was paying attention and taking part throughout.

While invigilators huddled and compared notes, the audience was treated to a series of performances and heartfelt stories from pupils and stars alike including Rizzle Kicks singer Jordan Stephens, EastEnders actors Danny-Boy Hatchard (Lee Carter) and Jonny Labey (Paul Coker), singer Sinéad Harnett and comedian Humza Arshad.

When the Guinness World Record was confirmed, there was a mass celebration of pupils and performers, with a celebratory celebrity soul train stealing the show.

The whole event was captured by ITV’s GMTV and The Guardian and pupils were congratulated by volunteers from Central London Samaritans, with each student going home with empowering knowledge, thought-provoking insights and copies of Samaritans’ leaflet for school pupils, What’s On Your Mind?

Samaritans’ CEO Ruth Sutherland said, “Learning to understand your mental health and emotional wellbeing is as important as learning to read and write. Life is tough and anyone can feel overwhelmed. Suffering in silence as a young person can lead to even more pain and distress as an adult. I’d like to congratulate Hussain Manawer, Professor Dame Til Wykes , King’s College London and all the students, teachers and celebrities involved for putting mental health centre stage, on the world stage in fact!”

For further information about Samaritans’ work with young people and schools, contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or

Attempting the world's largest mental health lesson

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