Psychiatry-Neuroscience team wins senior communications prize for hip-hop innovation project

A Psychiatrist from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and a Neuroscientist from the University of Cambridge have won an award for their innovative ways of using hip-hop music and culture to help tackle mental health issues.

Locum Psychiatrist, Dr Akeem Sule from the Yewdale Ward in the West Cumberland Infirmary and Neuroscientist, Dr Becky Inkster affiliated with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, won the ‘British Association of Psychopharmacology’s Senior Public Communications prize for their innovative social venture called Hip Hop Psych.

Dr Sule said: “This venture has brought together hip-hop, psychiatry and neuroscience in a unique collaboration, which aims to use lyrics and music of hip-hop artists to help tackle issues surrounding mental health such as psychosis, depression and personality disorder”.

Dr Sule said: “Becky and I created Hip Hop Psych after we found using hip-hop lyrics in teaching to students seemed to show an increase in their medical interest in Psychiatry. Our plan is to engage directly with youth and the general public and to bring teaching innovation using a hip-hop framework to the medical professions.”

Dr Inkster added: “These seemingly disjointed worlds of hip-hop and medicine are actually incredibly intertwined. This presents numerous exciting opportunities for innovation and empowerment. Just like professionals, many young patients find it hard to explain what's going on with them mentally, but if you ask them to rap, they can often rap and you find this rich narrative where they open up more.”

The reviewing panel made the following comments:
“Becky and Akeem have shown real innovation in their engagement related to ‘hip hop psych.’ In addition to articles; they have reached a wide audience, including prisoners and attendees at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. Their outreach also includes those working in Psychiatry, some of whom maybe unaware of the content of the lyrics they unpick in their events”.

The Hip Hop Psych co-founders have presented at various events in order to inform a wider audience of the initiative.

You can visit their Hip Hop Psych website for more information: