Matthew Macklin at HIP HOP PSYCH.

Hip Hop Insights into Mental Health at the University of Exeter

Graduate and Just 4 Funk Director Matthew Macklin joined forces with the Centre of Medical History at a special event to see how Hip Hop may help awareness of mental health issues.

Matthew said: "Dr Alison Haggett and Professor Mark Jackson from the Centre of Medical History at the University of Exeter introduced HIP HOP PSYCH to a packed out crowd at Mama Stones, Exeter.

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.

HIP HOP PSYCH is the brainchild of Dr Becky Inkster from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and Dr Akeem Sule, a consultant psychiatrist from South Essex Partnership Trust.

In their lecture, which included a performance from my local breaking (breakdance) crew Just 4 Funk, Dr Sule and Dr Inkster “diagnosed” Eminem’s fictional alter-ego, Stan, with a number of potential psychiatric conditions and noted that ‘2pac’ is expressing feelings linked with paranoia, depression and drug dependency in Death Around the Corner.

In fact, Dr Sule and Dr Inkster argue, mental health issues are represented in the work of many influential Hip Hop artists. They suggest that this is because the under-privileged urban areas from which many of these artists come are a hotbed for problems such as drug use, domestic violence, and heavy financial pressures - all of which are strongly connected with the occurrence of psychiatric illnesses.

By using the work of these artists as a starting place, Dr Inkster and Dr Sule are able to explore and raise awareness of mental health issues in a totally different language that they hope will be particularly accessible to young people in urban areas. They hope this will help to remove stigma around mental health and about Hip Hop. Dr Inkster writes:

“HIP HOP PSYCH is here to translate these important, lost messages from hard-to-reach individuals in order to help liberate those shackled by their mental health situations so that their voices can be heard.”

Date: 3 December 2013

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