UK Experts: Hip-Hop Can Be Used to Treat Mental Illness

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Jay Z and Pharrell Williams perform at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April.
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Once on the fringe, hip-hop culture is now popular culture and is being taught and studied at some of the most selective universities around the world. Researchers at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom believe that the genre can be used to help treat some mental illnesses.

Becky Inkster, a neuroscientist in Cambridge University’s department of psychiatry, and Akeem Sule, a consultant psychiatrist with the South Essex Partnership Trust, formed Hip-Hop Psych “to promote the use of hip-hop as an aid to the treatment of mental illness,” The Guardian reports.


Inkster and Sule are planning to flesh out what that regimen will look like at an upcoming Cambridge conference, but they briefly described how they plan to incorporate the rap genre into mental illness treatment programs.

“Uses of hip-hop envisaged by Inkster and Sule include having patients write and rap their own lyrics as part of their therapy,” The Guardian explained.  

Therapists have long encouraged their clients to use the written word to communicate their feelings more effectively, and hip-hop, if nothing else, is basically the written word put to a beat.

People will be encouraged to “write out where they see themselves in a year or two and to use rap lyrics to outline their future histories,” said Inkster.

Researchers describe how medical students can also use hip-hop as a resource, since its artists sometimes come from low-income communities and may have experienced instability and trauma as a result. “It is also proposed that hip-hop could be used in teaching medical students about psychiatric illnesses,” according to The Guardian.


Read more at The Guardian.

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