Performance poet Hussain Manawer treads the boards at DMU to inspire students on World Mental Health day


De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) pulled off a real coup for World Mental Health Day by staging a performance by acclaimed poet Hussain Manawer.


Hussain, who has shared a platform with everyone from Ed Sheeran to Meghan Markle, appeared at the Campus Centre this morning to deliver verses relating to mental health, grief and, ultimately, hope.

He then sat down to a Q&A with the audience to give his take on World Mental Health Day.

The 28-year-old Hussain, who was born in the East End of London, has dealt with terrible grief in his life, losing two friends to meningitis, three to suicide and his mother, suddenly, to a brain aneurism.

Along with the grief came severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress.

Before his performances he said: “I have had some very dark days.

“There were times in my life when I would be crying in my bedroom for hours, with nobody to speak to.


“Coming from a traditional Pakistani background I felt I could not speak about it, so I wrote about it instead. By doing that I changed my life.

“The moment your life changes, you have to change your life. You have to change your behaviour, you have to learn to identify your emotional triggers, think about the songs you listen to, the food you eat. Everything.


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“Your mental health is a lifestyle.”

Hussain also offered his three steps to better mental health.

  1. Write your way through it
  2. Build a sufficient support network around you
  3. Understand that it is a journey so do not overwhelm yourself by putting a time limit on dealing with healing

He explained: “I was able to take the words that overwhelmed me, put them on a piece of paper, dissect them and analyse them, break them down, put them into bars and lyrics, and then I was able to overwhelm them, not the other way around.”


Hussain finished with a message for students and social media use.

He said: “If you chase social media you will never win the race because you will always feel you want more people to like you, more comments on your pictures, more shares etcetera etcetera.

“None of that world actually exists, but what does exist is how you deal with your own internal contentment and that is way more important than what you showcase to the world through social media.

“Do not chase the lights. You are not meant to be plugged into a wall or walk around with battery packs in your pocket. A battery pack in your pocket should not determine how much energy you have for life.”

Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019

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