Posted on 14th May 2014.
How did the idea for HIP-HOP-PSYCHTM come about?
Dr Akeem Sule and myself, Dr Becky Inkster, are the Co-Founders of HIP-HOP-PSYCHTM, which is a pioneering joint venture using hip-hop music and culture as a vehicle for raising awareness and understanding mental health, well-being and common psychiatric illnesses.
Funnily enough, the vision for HIP HOP PSYCH all started in Oxford several years ago in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University. Myself and Dr Sule were both attending a spontaneous hip-hop lecture given by the legendary Blastmaster KRS-ONE at Christ Church. We recognised each other from the Department of Psychiatry and discovered our shared passion for hip-hop. We generated the innovative idea to merge hip-hop music and culture with psychiatry and mental health. Our careers took us in different directions, but in 2012 we were re-united at the University of Cambridge. Dr Sule is a Consultant Psychiatrist working at the South Essex Partnership Trust and is also an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK. As for myself, Dr Becky Inkster, I am a Clinical Neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK (with an undergraduate degree in psychology and later specialising in imaging genetics and epidemiology).
Most recently I have become fascinated by the idea of using youth language and culture to drive mental health analyses and understanding of mental health triggers and resiliency using social media in relation to neuroscience techniques such as genetics and MRI. The young mind is full of potential and inspiration that needs to be shared to help drive research forward in the right direction! Hip-hop offers so much to young people and it can help medical experts to understand youth culture and break down barriers!
With our expansive and collective skill sets in psychiatry and neuroscience as well as our deep and genuine passion and strong awareness for hip-hop culture HIP-HOP-PSYCHTM merges these worlds together to help engage and remove stigma about mental health. In addition to public health engagement we also lecture to medical students to help recruitment. We work with medics, service users, charities, rappers, you name it!
What is the vision for HIP-HOP-PSYCHTM?
Hip-hop culture is a powerful vehicle for raising awareness about mental health. It is rich with references to psychiatric illnesses that have not been explored, dissected and documented until now. We are the interface that links hip hop with mental health. Our medical credibility and authentic passion for hip-hop enables us to bridge this gap. We understand the culture and speak the language. We want to share our knowledge in order to cultivate awareness and remove stigma surrounding mental health and hip-hop.
What events/venues have you previously performed at?
We perform anywhere! From nightclubs and pubs to lecture halls and student societies! We want our messages to reach as many people as possible. We have been invited by the Dean at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and also the Wellcome Trust Research Funding Advisor for Medical History and so many others. We are now gearing up to work with patients to record their own hip-hop mental health album and work with charities to try and open a new School of Hip-Hop and all sorts of other activities including Radio. We have been so fortunate to get feedback from a hugely wide range of people, some listed below:
Some of our latest feedback:
“My discussion with you [HIP HOP PSYCHTM] was one of the most refreshing discussions I have had in ages. The fact that you are focussing on a real world problem and using your understanding of that to define the right solution is absolutely the correct approach.” – Technology Manager & MBA, Cambridge, 27th January 2014.
“I think HIP HOP PSYCHTM is an exciting and innovative venture that bridges youth culture with the medical community. The model is based on empowerment and self-knowledge, which puts the power back in the individuals’ hands to take responsibility of their life and health. Hearing about some of the stories and reactions attendees of the programme have had gave me goosebumps (in a good way!), as it illustrated the potential impact that this approach can have for the future of medicine and preventative strategies.” – Student, University of Cambridge, 25th January 2014.
“It was great seeing you guys in action and getting an introduction to HIP HOP PSYCHTM. I can’t remember an event I’ve done with Key Changes that has provoked as much interest and debate amongst our service users (and staff)! Would be great to maintain a link and collaborate on future events – keep me posted.” – Key Changes, 4th December 2013.
“Hip Hop’s frank portrayal of urban life often earns it a bad rap in the press, but two mental health professionals have found that the raw and honest lyrics of many Hip Hop artists are a powerful vehicle to explore and raise awareness of psychiatric illnesses..” – Just 4 Funk Productions, Exeter, 11th November 2013.
Fantastic! So when will HIP-HOP-PSYCHTM be coming to Oxford?
We will be performing in Oxford THIS COMING FRIDAY on the 16th May doors open at 7pm at Wadham College in the Moser Theatre. More information can be found here on how to attend: