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Hip-hop therapy: When rhythms tackle mental illnesses

Hip-hop therapy: When rhythms tackle mental illnesses

05 July | 0 Comments | By Arizona Mental Health Helpline Team

Mental health relates to the emotional, psychological and social well-being of an individual. An imbalance can affect the way a person handles stress and day-to-day functioning and can give rise to debilitation mental health problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar etc. Depression, one of the most common mental illness affecting millions of people worldwide, manifests in the form of prolonged sadness, social withdrawal, emotional outbursts, irritability, anger and suicidal thoughts. Stress, excessive anxiety and fear about something can sometimes take the shape of an anxiety disorder, which demands psychiatric attention.   Irregular mood swings can sometimes become so debilitating, that they might be a symptom of bipolar disorder.

The identification of such symptoms requires proper diagnosis by a therapist or any mental health practitioner trained in providing professional mental health services. Treatment therapies can vary depending on the requirement and condition of an individual. One of the approaches that is being increasingly explored is the process of ‘externalizing’ the negative feelings to treat mental disorders. In this context, performing arts’ artists, particularly in the hip-hop genre, have found a new way to externalize their negative energy, and in the process, create rhymes that help them improve their mental health.

‘Externalizing’ negative feelings

Hip-hop is slowly gaining ground as an effective way to deal with mental health issues and challenges faced by hip-hop artists and enthusiasts. The creative expression of one’s feelings through rhymes not only act as an outlet but also allows mental health professionals to have a deep understanding about the workings of an individual’s mind. The lyrics contain experiences of traumatic experiences, struggle of dealing with them, and the stress of coping with the fast lifestyle of a celebrity.

Hip-hop therapy has been further promoted among the youth via initiatives taken by people like Tomas Alvarez. He founded the Hip Hop Therapy Global Institute (HHTGI), which is making hip-hop therapy more accessible to the community. This concept has also been used by school counselor Ian Levy of the New Vision Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science II, where his hip-hop therapy counseling program has received much recognition from the New York State School Counselor Association. His approach is to look into the meaning behind the lyrics which can help him engage with a student at a therapeutic level. Though a mental illness may not be directly referred to in a song, related words find their expression somewhere. The constant rejection and hypersensitivity of mentally ill patients are difficult to cope with and they often end up abusing substances. Words are a powerful medium to weave their thoughts and sing about the dark periods of life. Hip-hop therapy is particularly helping people of color to shed inhibitions and open up about their struggles. Celebrities like Chance The Rapper has recently revealed how anxiety is a new thing for him and how mental illnesses are very less discussed in the black community.

However, hip-hop therapy may not be advisable to people with serious mental health conditions as their capacity to participate may be limited due to the severe condition. At such times, traditional forms of treatment in the form of medicines, psychotherapies and experiential therapies like yoga are more beneficial.

Road to recovery

The last decade has witnessed an exponential increase in the number of people affected by mental health disorders. Their prevalence today is more common than earlier. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental health has pushed the victims to margins, leaving them isolated and forgotten. It is crucial to understand that untreated mental disorders not just affect those who are suffering but they also add economic burden to the society and wipe away many productive years of a person’s life. It is time to take appropriate steps in making mental health services accessible to all and help patients regain normal life.

The Arizona Mental Health Helpline can connect people suffering from mental disorders to state-of-the-art treatment centers which provide intensive care in a serene environment. Call us on our 24/7 helpline number (866) 606-7791 to get details about the finest mental health treatment centers in Arizona or chat with one of our trained professionals to know more about mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.

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