Hussain Manawer: You’re strongest when you’re most vulnerable

Hussain Manawer performing on stage in a straitjacket

Kelvin Anim  Hussain Manawer

Hussain Manawer is a poet from Ilford, Essex. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of King’s College in July 2018 in recognition of his campaigning on mental health issues.


Everyone faces a crisis at some point in their lives. I’ve experienced mental health troubles, people very close to me have as well. At those times you can feel powerless and hopeless. You feel alone.

In a world where we’re so connected, we’re also disconnected in a lot of ways. Part of the problem can be not feeling comfortable having those conversations with the people around you. In order for people to improve their mental health they need to start by acknowledging it and speaking about it.

Poetry really helped me. Finding an outlet, a form of expression, can be really beneficial for people. Some people find this in art, acting, or dance. These activities can offer a way to express your vulnerabilities.

Hussain Manawer performing on stage in front of a crowd

My poetry gives me a platform to bring these issues out in the open with the wider public too. A lot of the work I do is about demolishing the stigma around mental health issues and allowing people to feel like they can express themselves.

I was in America recently where over 44,000 people kill themselves every year. That’s a huge number. It’s around 120 people a day. In a country that is supposed to be the land of opportunity and the land of freedom, many people do not feel free within themselves. That’s something I wanted to address.

But how do you communicate a sensitive topic to a mainstream audience who are not used to seeing things like this?
You do it through the power of people. You show people that we are all the same as each other. Pain is universal.

The video we recorded shows how we can all be on the same street at the same time doing the same things, but we’re all moving at different paces, different speeds.

Time is the most valuable thing we can give to each other and to ourselves.

Take time to understand your thoughts, feelings, emotions and your behaviour patterns and really give yourself what you need. Some people might call that selfish, but it’s about self-care and self-love.

Surround yourself with people that genuinely care about you too, because you need to feel comfortable being able to express yourself to those around you.

Take care of yourself and make sure you’re also reaching out when you need to.

Start those conversations.


If you would like to share your story, why not get in touch? Email forever@kcl.ac.uk with a short bio and a summary of the story you would like to tell.

Discuss this blog