Mental Illness Treated by Hip-Hop Music

mental illness

Cambridge University scientific researchers in England are seeking to prove that mental illness can be effectively treated by listening to and writing hip-hop music. Neuroscientist Becky Inkster and consultant Akeem Sule of the South Essex Partnership Trust  have recently created a new social venture company called Hip Hop Psych. These two scientists believe hip hop music has tangible therapeutic benefits for those with psychiatric illnesses and they hope their newest efforts will provide the social proof behind the academic theory.

Inkster grew up around hip-hop music when it was just making its official debut into mainstream music. She claims that many lyrics reference mental health problems where artists worked out their issues by composing lyrics. One possible therapeutic technique she wants to explore  is to have psychiatric patients compose rap lyrics about their future and where they see themselves heading in the next year or two.  She also believes that individuals can develop a self-awareness about the psychological issues that plague them.

Inkster states that rap and hip-hop music carries far more complex messages than most people realize and appreciate. Inkster and Sule consider hip hop music the ideal medium for the treatment of mental illness problems and finding appropriate coping mechanisms. Inkster feels that working these complicated issues out on paper in a creative format will help these troubled individuals feel empowered.

Not only will mental illness patients be instructed to write about their struggles in the form of song lyrics as therapeutic treatment, they will also be encouraged to perform them as well. This may proving a healing release by allowing them to voice and feel the full range of emotions that come with coping with these difficult matters. Hip-hop artists have been using this musical style for a very long time as therapeutic treatments, and she hopes to help everyday individuals learn how to do the same.

Inkster stated that many hip-hop artists and rappers came from places where drug abuse, poverty, and domestic violence are rampant problems. Growing up in this type of environment can create all sorts of psychiatric illnesses. These mental health issues can be easily detected through the lyrics of many hit songs already on the market. Inkster hopes to explore these songs in upcoming lectures and provide her analysis on what psychiatric illnesses are addressed in each song based on the composed lyrics.

Inkster and Sule hope to work with the charities, amateur and professional hip hop artists, medical groups, and other groups to help promote the positive healing potential that hip hop music can have to treat mental illness.  Inkster and Sule are even considering how to use rap and hip hop music to teach medical students about mental health illnesses and their complex symptoms. These two scientific creators of the social venture company Hip Hop Psych will be discussing more about their theories on how mental illness can be treated by listening to and writing hip-hop music lyrics when they speak next week at the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas. They also plan to discuss such celebrity artists as Tupac, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

By Valerie Bordeau




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Photo by Stephen Michael Barnett-Creativecommons Flickr

2 Responses to "Mental Illness Treated by Hip-Hop Music"

  1. Dillon Myall   March 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  2. Rose   November 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Amazing and absolutely true. Three years ago I started listening to hip hop again but in a different way than in the 90s. My life, 13 years of anxiety and depression had come to a head. I had no idea I was mentally ill.
    It truly was hip hop and celexia that got me through the madness within. When I think of the past and my mental condition it is so painful that I could have stayed in that place and lost my life.
    The article mentioned J. Cole, J. Cole’s c.d. was very instrumental in my recovery. Along with Ace Hood, Wale, Meek Mill, Maybach Music in general. I suggest buying the entire c.d. and listen to the whole c.d. because it tells a story. Even if the music seems vulgar it’s applicable in some type of way, just listen.
    Hip hop is similar to what the Greeks used in the Gregorian chants, a story being told to a beat and the people putting a movement to it. Think of mythology and exaggeration of those myths. Mythology is the world within the mind.
    Each person needs to discover it for themselves though and chose their route to that inner world. My family thought I was insane (and still do) but I’m absolutely free in my mind. I am a whole woman today and my kids are so thankful to have a real functioning mother. I was mentally ill when I gave birth to my children, the true person I am they had never met until I started to recover. Unfortunately I was taken advantage of by a man that wanted me more than I wanted him. He was I’m my life when a personal tragedy occurred and took advantage of me through that tragedy. I had no idea who I was. It was terrible. I woke up from a horrible dream with a horrible man and horrible clothing living I’m the suburbs, hip hop help me trace myself back to the true me.
    At the right time I met the right doctor general practioner that wanted me to deal with my problems (I didn’t know I had any) so she gave me a low dose of celexia from there I remembered I loved music and dance which lead me to hip hop and healing myself through hip hop therapy. If started seeing a psychologist and I would try and explain what I was doing but she continuously blew me off. After reading the article I’m glad I stuck with what I knew to be correct.
    Healing through hip hop is the beginning, once I got through hip hop I studied mythology and philosophy, great literature. Books I had no business reading, as my father would say.
    Movement with hip hop is highly encouraged. And don’t get stuck in old school or the big names. Even Chief Kief *sic has a lot to offer or lil boosie. These two artist would be shocked that I listened to their music to heal, I’m a suburban mother of three but that’s not the point it’s how I applied it in my life. I had my own pain and shame I had to eradicate.


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