According to a team of doctors in the UK, the lyrics in hip-hop could be the key to treating mental illness. In an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry medical journal, it mentions that Kendrick Lamar and Tupac have been used as part of the therapy, which is believed to assist those struggling with mental illnesses, including depression or schizophrenia. It is said that the sufferers find solitude in lyrics that detail the difficulties in life.
Hip-Hop can help
Hip Hop Psych is a team of mental health doctors who use the power of music to reach people suffering from a variety of mental health issues.
Hip-hop lyrics go far beyond the swearing, the rapping about money and exploitation of women. Conscious lyricism contains raw, unfiltered narration describing the harsh realities and coping mechanisms used to combat these detrimental circumstances – this is a recurrent theme in hip-hop music.
Hip hop music is rich with mental health references related to addiction, psychosis, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and so on, as well as multiple environmental risk factors (e.g., urbanicity, poor nutrition, destructive parental influences resulting in childhood maltreatment in the absence of positive role models) and predisposing genetic and epigenetic risk factors. – Hip Hop Psyche
They have determined that the rich narratives of Kendrick Lamar relate to important mental-health themes.
Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics have underlined several psychiatric themes around addiction, depression vulnerability, and resilience against stress and depression. How might this help with the pressing problem of mood and other disorders among young people in harsh, urban environments?
First, listening to Kendrick Lamar might help mental-health practitioners and other professionals to understand the day-to-day internal and external struggles of their patients.
Hip-hop might also be a way for young people to understand and consider their own vulnerability, resilience, and life choices in a culturally relevant and easily accessible manner. – Hip Hop Psyche
Don’t suffer in silence
But it’s not just fans that can heal with hip-hop, but also the artists, too. Back in October, Kid Cudi checked into rehab, after revealing he was suffering from depression. Like so many people, he isn’t alone, with many of his peers also struggling with depression.
Last year, Vice published an article that shared such stories from the artists, who also struggle with the illness.
The artists who do speak about [depression] get highlighted: Artists like Scarface or Earl or Future or Biggie. A lot of the vulnerable aspects of their music is what makes them praised so much. But I think as a whole, depression really isn’t spoken about too openly in rap music – but it’s also not spoken about too openly in the black community period. Mental health in general is kind of shied away from. – Fat Tony
Nowadays in hip-hop, there’s a lot of popular music that is all about intoxication and just really getting lit and getting fucked up and forgetting about [depression]. So we gotta put layers over that depression, so it doesn’t get talked about in music. Just turn up and forget about that shit. – Dyme-A-Duzin
I think depression is pushed to the background and hidden in hip-hop, just like it is in the black community. Like Mos Def says: What happens with hip-hop is whatever happens with us. We don’t ever suggest therapy to our family. We don’t ever think of depression as a mental illness. Usually, it’s like, “Hey, why are you sad for? We don’t got time for that.” – YC the Cynic