11 Years & Counting

Since 2004 BRL has been using Hip Hop Therapy to transform the lives of youth and spark a global movement to reimagine mental health care.

  • f

    Youth Served
  • g

    U.S. Cities
  • p

    Youth Albums
  • b

    Youth Showcases
  • d

    Providers Trained

The Problem

Most current systems struggle to meet the mental health needs of youth or color. In fact, many of the models used to provide therapy have become antiqued and fail to engage youth in ways that are meaningful to them. As a result, mental health disparities facing youth of color are rising at an alarming rate. According to experts, youth of color living in cities plagued by poverty, violence and crime experience traumatic stress at rates higher than soldiers returning from combat. According to researchers at The National Child Trauma Stress Network complex trauma can have lasting effects on a child’s emotions, ability to think, learn, and concentrate, impulse control, self-image, and relationships with others.

Yet despite the pressing need for care, many youth reject support from mental health systems largely due to a lack of trust and stigma associated with receiving care. Youth in need who do not receive care are at greater risks for incarceration, serious mental illness, addiction and other health related issues. By the year 2020 more than half of all youth under the age of 18 will be persons of color. It is imperative that mental health systems adopt culturally appropriate therapeutic models tailored for diverse populations.

The Solution

Beats Rhymes and Life (BRL) aims to fundamentally shift how mental health services are developed, funded, and administered to diverse youth populations. Since 2004, BRL has been showcasing alternative mental health promotion strategies that combine popular youth culture with proven therapy models that promote engagement, healthy relationships and leadership among marginalized youth and young adults. BRL challenges traditional top-down mental health paradigms that position service providers as the sole experts. By taking a collaborative approach that leverages the skills of mental health professionals, teaching artists and peer mentors, BRL has introduced an inclusive and sustainable service delivery model that equips young people with:

  • tools for success in school and in life
  • positive coping strategies
  • conflict resolutions skills
  • avenues for creative expression
  • supportive networks

  • Hip Hop was created during a time when people didn't have hope. It was the medicine for what was going on outside in the world. - Damonte Wilson, Age 23 - BRL Alumni & Academy Member