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The HEArts Program, directed by Joseph Mango, explores the effective use of patient narratives, media and creative arts to stimulate support, sharing and reflection among stakeholders to increase coping and compassion for severe mental illness.  Many of our events are also research projects to measure how the arts helps promote healing in times of stress/depression and to also measure changes in attitude on depression stigma.

Upcoming/Recent Projects

  • Voices of Resilience (California Arts Council Grant) (2019-2020)
    Music and Libretto by Kenneth Wells
  • James Dean America: Screenplay Live Read (2019)
  • The Advocates Screening and Discussion (2019)
  • We See You, Sis (Funding by the California Arts Council) (2017-2019)
  • Endowment in Life: Celebrating the Use of Operas to Address Mental Health Stigma (2019)
  • Community Partners Commentary (2018)
  • The One With Friends Play and Research Study (2016-2017)
  • The Center Cannot Hold Opera (2016)
  • An Evening with Author Ned Vizzini (2011)
  • The Buried Life Screening and Discussion with Ben Nemtin (2011)
  • The First Lady Opera (2010)

Past Media and Medicine for Communities Projects

Prior to HEArts, the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society created the Media and Medicine for Communities Program which was designed to help leaders in media, medicine, and communities to be more effective in improving community health status and healthcare quality, through research in the context of medicine-media-community partnerships. The mission of the UCLA Media and Medicine for Communities program was to use production of the arts and media approaches to produce public understanding and to also use new media and technology as a strategy to deliver health care education, specifically on mental health and substance abuse.

“Mahler on the Couch” Film Fundraiser
The film, directed by Percy & Felix Adlon, was presented by the Psychiatric Education & Research Foundation (Celebrating 20 Years of Service).  The screening took place on April 7, 2011.

The PER Foundation was pleased to announce the first phase of a multi-year fund-raising effort in support of psychiatric research that will improve mental health services and outcomes for children and adolescent in the public mental health system of our community. For information on the PER Foundation, visit:

Teen Photovoice Project
The Teen Photovoice Project is a community-based participatory research empowerment education program. The project recruited thirteen minority high school students from three parts of Los Angeles City who were brought together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion to serve as a Youth Advisory Board Council. Using a Photovoice methodology driven by Freirian Theory, participants used digital still cameras to explore what they think influences their health behaviors.

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were applied to understand group discussions on pictures, personal narratives, product development, group dynamics, community feedback, and individual measures of empowerment and behavior. This study may offer a unique perspective into the influences of health behaviors identified by adolescents.

The project officially started on January 15th, 2004 with the distribution of digital cameras to the sixteen participating students. Data analysis is now complete, and Dr. Necheles currently is writing up the results for publication.

Pan African Film Festival presents “Real Men. Real Depression.”
An academic-community partnered working group met monthly over one year to formulate approaches to engage the community to talk about depression and wellness. The group developed depression-related outreach events for the 2005 Pan African Film Festival during Black History Month (February) in South L.A. The events included: 1) poetry reading/comedy on depression; 2) photo exhibit by community members depicting influences of their local environment on mood; 3) screening of an NIMH-produced public service announcement (PSA) about depression in African American men, prior to a regularly scheduled film. The group used expert consultation and community participation to develop evaluation questionnaires to measure the impact of these events.

Mood Swings
Media Center partner Victoria Vesna developed the interactive exhibition “Mood Swings” for the Inside Out Loud exhibit, the first significant survey of contemporary American art to explore critical issues related to women’s health. The use of new technologies in Mood Swings creates an interface between virtual and real worlds and engages the viewer by inciting responses to the audio and visual transmutations. This work is informed by the artist’s study of Indian chakra system along with her collaboration with a research group led by Dr. Ken Wells, Professor-in-Residence of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA who studies environmental effects on mental health.
Project Website:

Media and Medicine: Environment and the Mind
To mark the launch of the newly established UCLA Art | Sci center, Director Victoria Vesna, who also chairs the Department of Design | Media Arts, organized a series of Monday evening roundtable dialogues. Media artists and scientists from the home campus, UCLA, from the UC system, and from the international community will approach the center’s intention to address ethical, social and environmental issues of contemporary scientific innovations and artistic projects that respond to cutting-edge inventions and research. UCLA Media and Medicine for Communities group members, led by Dr. Ken Wells and Dr. Bowen Chung, collaborate with media artist Victoria Vesna and designer Henri Lucas developed a communication strategy for the Hurricane Katrina survivors.
Project Website:

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