Big Narstie: 'Lack of mental health support can lead to crime'

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Big Narstie has suggested there may be a link between mental health and crime in cities such as London.

The rapper believes young people who commit crimes may be doing so because they are "mentally ill."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health says it is "determined that young people should be able to access the support they need."

Narstie says upbringing contributes directly to people's mental health, and may lead to crime through desperation.

The 32-year-old shared his views in a piece for the early June edition of The Big Issue.

"In a simple experiment, if you take one child and leave him in a perfect and comfortable environment, and you leave another child in a destructive and aggressive environment, you'll see different symptoms," he writes.

"Part of the problem is a lot of kids have kids and then can't cope. If a kid is born into a tough situation with no means of dealing with it, you end up with kids who are mentally ill and have no way of reaching out. How can you hope to get out?"

Breaking down stigma

In a statement the Department of Health praised Big Narstie for speaking out.

"Breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health is crucial, and it is encouraging to see Big Narstie talk openly about his own mental health," it said.

"We recently unveiled plans to improve access to services by expanding provision in schools and the first waiting time standards - backed by a record £1.4 billion of extra funding to pay for services."

Narstie says that the crimes people are committing are "not about luxury, but survival and desperation."

"You're broke, crammed in a tight place and you've got no release," he writes.

"You're giving out all the CVs you can and you're still not getting anything."

In 2017, an NHS report revealed that 20.7% of people accessing mental health support in the UK were under 19.

Big Narstie has spoken openly about mental health and promoted the power of music and creativity to help improve emotional wellbeing.

His debut album, due for release in July 2018, is named BDL Bipolar and he has previously appeared as agony aunt alter ego 'Uncle Pain' in videos online.

image copyrightBig Narstie

He says people in the public eye should use their position to raise awareness around mental health.

"With great power comes great responsibility. I want to show people my successful side, but I want to show you my bipolar side too," he adds.

"Yeah, sometimes I just want to sit in my boxer shorts and cry. That's what being a human is.

"It's OK to have up days. It's OK to have down days."

In 2017, Newsbeat made a documentary about mental health as part of Radio 1's My Mind & Me campaign. Watch it here.

There's more help and information on the BBC Radio 1 advice pages.

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