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Universal Hip Hop Museum and Partners Set to Host Free Hip Hop and Mental Health Event

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The Universal Hip Hop Museum recently announced “Hip Hop & Mental Health: Facing the Stigma Together,” a new event to be held in honor of Black Music Month. 

Created in partnership with the Grammy Museum, the Recording Academy and MusiCares, the event will focus on mental health and its role in hip-hop culture, according to the press release. Scheduled as a free two-hour livestream event on June 25, the panel will have hip-hop artists discuss their mental health and how it has changed throughout the years. Mental health professionals will also be given the opportunity to speak on ways mental health issues in hip hop can be addressed. 

For the event, TV star, rapper and actor, Nick Cannon, is set to host; entertainment executive Adrian Miller and Claudette Robinson of the Miracles are also slated to speak. The panel will also include Michael “Blue” Williams, owner of record company “Family Tree Services,” and singer Dawn Richard. 

“The goal of the UHHM is to give voice to breaking down the stigmas facing mental health healing and wellness in the Hip Hop community,” said a representative of Universal Hip Hop Museum in a statement. 

While mental health issues have been discussed in hip hop since the early days of the genre in songs like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” reference to the topic has grown in the past years. According to a 2020 study published by journal JAMA Pediatrics, the University of North Carolina found that lyrics in hip-hop songs about mental health issues have more than doubled in the past twenty years. 

Looking at 125 of Billboard’s most popular hip-hop songs between 1998 and 2018, the researchers found that 68% of rap songs in 2018 had lyrics referring to mental health issues whereas, in 1998, only 32% contained lyrics about the topic.

Along with the increased rates of mentions of mental health issues, the study also found that references to depression specifically increased. According to their findings, throughout the twenty-year span, mentions of depression or depressing thoughts in hip hop increased from 16% to 32%.

With the increased openness about mental health issues, officials say the hip-hop world is helping progress how the topic is being discussed. 

“Mental health and hip-hop culture are the super-friends we need for today,” said Dr. Randolph D. Sconiers, DSW, LCSW, a mental health therapist and creator of mental health platform “Mental-Hop,” per a publication by Mental Health America. “Whether it’s reaching marginalized groups whose voices around mental health issues are seldom heard or highly stigmatized groups like Black and Brown men who may suffer from a lack of emotionally safe spaces to express their feelings, hip-hop culture provides an engaging opportunity to begin to heal. Hip-hop culture is the inviting door of a safe house called mental health.”

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