Current literature in health education suggests that young people from urban environments are approximately one-third to one-half less likely to be provided with mental health care than White youth. Researchers further argue that even when care is provided to young people from urban communities, disparities are evident in the quality and completion of those services. What has become abundantly clear in existing research is that neighborhood and community have a direct effect on an individual’s mental health, and that urban neighborhoods are at a disadvantage when it comes to social and economic resources, leading to higher levels of physical and social disorders.
Young people enter schools on a daily basis where the nature of youth responses to mental health concerns is an under-focused dimension of teaching and learning, and has a deleterious effect on academic achievement. The academic achievement of African American and Latino/a youth who populate urban schools, the same youth who are exposed to mental health disparities, has been reported to fall far below that of their counterparts from other ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, in most cases school counselors are too inundated with bureaucratic deadlines, and teachers are too focused on meeting administrative demands around assessments and acquisition content knowledge, that young people are not provided with space to digest difficult emotional experiences. Consequently there is a significant need for both counseling and pedagogical practices that focus specifically on allowing young people to process emotional obstacles that, if unaddressed, have a negative impact on their academic achievement and well being.
HipHopEd Therapy is a response to the mental health disparities that impact young people of color in urban communities and schools. Through utilizing a therapeutic framework that is aligned directly with urban youth culture, HipHopEd Therapy aims to establish counseling spaces within schools and the community where young people can work through the socioemotional challenges that often, since they’re unaddressed, have a negative impact on academic performance. Currently HipHopEd Therapy deploys a school counseling program called CYPHER (Counseling Youth By Promoting Healthy Emotional Reflection).