The University of Queensland smashed the Guinness World Record for the largest mindfulness lesson in a single venue. The successful attempt saw 1417 staff, students, alumni and community flock to the Great Court to break the previous record of 569 participants.

As part of the University’s wider Mental Health Strategy; the event promoted participation, inclusiveness and a sense of connection and belonging. The lesson was led by Dr Russ Harris who teaches mindfulness techniques commonly used to manage issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. He said he was privileged to be asked to lead the lesson, “Mental health in tertiary students is such a talking point among mental health experts at the moment and to be able to teach what I love knowing the impact mindfulness can have, is a huge honour,” he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Joanne Wright and the University of Queensland’s Union Vice-President of Student Rights  Isabella Scattini accepted the award on behalf of the University. Scattini said she was pleased the University of Queensland was making mental health a focus of its approach to student affairs. “UQ students are facing growing pressures while studying with the rising cost of living, the lack of part-time employment opportunities, an increasingly tense social and political environment, and the hardship of being away from home,” Scattini said. “Mental illness, particularly among students, is undeniably on the rise, and the turn out we had today proves this is an issue close to a lot of people’s hearts.”

Wright said the event was more than a record attempt. “The event gave us an opportunity to pull together as a community to help break down the stigma around mental illness, and encourage healthy discussions that can help us to proactively engage in behaviours promoting good mental health,” Wright said. “This was a fantastic opportunity to get involved with a well-known institution such as Guinness World Records, while supporting mental health awareness.”

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