"Hip Hop Psych" is an innovative, pioneering venture launched in November 2012 co-founded by ourselves (Dr Akeem Sule and Dr Becky Inkster). Hip Hop Psych consists of multiple strategies with the overarching aim of releasing the stigma of mental health using an authentic hip hop culture forum. Our target audience is wide-ranging: youths and adults experiencing mental health problems, medical students, resident doctors, consultant psychiatrists, the scientific research community in academic institutions, policy makers, charities and hip hop artists, poets, actors. We are uniquely positioned to apply our comprehensive medical expertise as well as our longstanding intellectual awareness and passion for hip hop culture in order to engage with others in a way that has never been done before in order to address important issues surrounding mental health. One example of our public health engagement with youths will include workshops for youths and adults struggling with mental health issues. We are currently setting up plans to work with youths who suffer with mental health problems and who are interested in expressing themselves through hip hop culture and music. We will be working with them to create mental health focused, conscious lyrics to help them explore their condition and to challenge them to self-engage and understand their internal/external conflicts from multiple perspectives (biomedical, psychosocial, environmental involving direct engagement with medical experts, hip hop artists etc). Ultimately, for that project we want to work with youths to help them create lyrics that have personal meaning about their conditions with the ultimate goal of helping them to record their conscious lyrics in a recording studio (currently the plan is to record in NYC or LA given we have hip hop artist contacts their supporting us, but London is also an option we will explore). Further to public health engagement, we also want to engage directly with the medical community and to give lectures at universities around the world to medical students and resident doctors and academics. We want to engage with the medical community to promote psychiatry and psychiatric research using hip hop culture given the decline in enrolment into psychiatry as a specialist and the shortage of currently practicing psychiatrists. In November 2012 we gave a lecture "The Portrayal of Mental Health in Hip Hop Lyrics" at the University of Cambridge to the Cambridge Psychiatry Society . The lecture was favourably received with positive feedback, such as "...a brilliant and alternative approach to psychiatry...refreshing to listen to lyrics about mental health and analyse them with regards to the context in which they were written". Following this initial success, we have since been invited by the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, to lecture using the same conceptual hip hop framework, which will be taking place spring 2013. Further public engagements are being booked.
Dr Akeem Sule is a Consultant Psychiatrist in General Adult Psychiatry, South Essex Partnership Trust, UK, and is an Honorary Visiting Research Associate at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK. Dr Sule applies innovative pioneering ideas of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Old School Hip Hop Method of Teaching". In 2009, he was the winner of the award for Consultant Teacher of the Year for residency doctors for Bedfordshire and Luton Partnership Trust and joint-winner of the Consultant Teacher for Residency Exams award. Dr Sule is consistently rated as one of the best teachers on the Stage 2 Psychiatry course by University of Cambridge medical students. Dr Sule has an academic interest in biological psychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychotherapies.
Dr Becky Inkster is a Clinical Neuroscientist who has published as first author in high-impact, peer-reviewed psychiatric journals, including Archives of General Psychiatry. Some of her related work has been recognized in special issues in her area of expertise and she has been invited in honorarium to present her work internationally. She has a strong network within the international scientific community and is actively engaged in a broad range of research areas in mental health (genetics, molecular neuropathology, neuroimaging and psychosocial factors, and statistical modelling). She is Project Manager for a Wellcome Trust funded Strategic award called NeuroScience in Psychiatry Network (funded Ã‚Â£5.3 million). She recently launched the network's first large scale study called "U-Change", which involves the recruitment of 2000 young adults (aged 14-24) in Cambridgeshire and London, UK; this cohort will be assessed for complex traits and will be used to draw comparisons with patient groups with common mental health disorders. Through her research she aims to embed cutting-edge neuroscientific findings into psychiatry to broaden and challenge our current views of psychiatric illness.
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