Bhishma Asare's Rap Therapy Initiative Is Taking A Proactive Approach To Mental Health

Bhishma Asare's Rap Therapy Initiative Is Taking A Proactive Approach To Mental Health

May 05, 2021

For the past couple of years, South London rapper Bhishma Asare, aka Proph, has been building a new initiative that uses rap to teach kids communication skills and set them up to make a success of themselves.

The key strength of Rap Therapy is that it's proactive, reaching out to young people when they're still in school to give them the "transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and listening skills, which they can use in and out of their classrooms."

The project was originally started back in 2018, but with the devastation wrought by the pandemic, Asare's found its message resonating with more and more young people, their parents and their teachers. To date, their expanding team of mentors, producers, poets, singers and youth workers has reached 4,500 young people across 45 schools, communities and youth centres.

Speaking on why he started the project in the first place, Asare explains that he and his brother grew up watching kids in their area fall prey to social deprivation. Knowing how close they came to going down the same path, they decided to do something about it.

"As young kids growing up in South London, my brother and I did not grasp the fullness of opportunities that were ahead of us," he explains. "We went to school in quite challenging geographic and demographic communities. We thought we had two options to succeed in life; music or sports, whereby this same mentality was faced by most of our peers. The alternative, route many childhood friends went down, was drugs and gang culture, which led to social tragedies, including prison sentences and violent behaviour.

"Fortunately, my brother and I were steered from a young age by parents that we should stay far from gang culture, which we did. Our outlet was rap, whereby we became very good rappers — creating albums and performing across London. Over the years we realised that creating rap developed strong interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, entrepreneurship, communication and most importantly self-expression. We were using rap to improve our mental health, without even knowing it."

Words: James Keith