Hip Hop Mental Health Project
Artist Rha Goddess’s Hip Hop Mental Health Project (HHMHP) seeks to shift the cultural paradigm of shame and alienation surrounding mental illness and satisfy the need for a safe place to confront mental health issues and obtain vital information. Through the integration of the one-woman performance, LOW, and dialogue, the HHMHP works to impact public discourse and values among urban communities in a way that educates about the signs, symptoms, and spiraling course of mental illness, and explores possible solutions to the contributing life stressors of societal stigma and the difficulties of an overtaxed mental health system. A key creative component of the project is LOW, Goddess’s one-woman performance that unflinchingly depicts the very human reality of mental illness in our culture. LOW fuses monologue, movement, and music to tell the story of Lowquesha, a vibrant young woman, and her all-too-common journey through the mental health system. The Hip Hop Mental Health Project is committed to engaging young urban and low-income communities of color, as they are the most detrimentally affected by the disparities in mental health diagnosis, treatment, and care. Dialogues that immediately follow performances aim to create a safe space for audiences to confront issues around mental health in a way that might not be possible in another context. Through performances such as LOW and its related dialogue, HHMHP seeks to: educate about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and tools for recovery; decrease the social stigma of mental illness, especially for those of lower incomes and of color; explore possible solutions to some of the life stressors that influence mental health; increase awareness of, and access to, mental health services and support; and impact public discourse about mental health.