UCLA Arts & Healing


I’ve been to three conferences this year. Why do I go to all these conferences? Why is healing important? How do I find mental health in music, art and writing?

It was a good conference. I took a workshop in singing, and one on creating cards that speak and one on voice that listens. DMH footed the bill. Why? Why is it important that people who are unemployed, without transportation, work histories, credit and sometimes homes and cellphones get to go to the LAX Hilton to be out of space with MFAs and PHDs with MACs and Kale Lunches and Smart Phones?

Art is a lot like society, I think. It’s starts with the doodles, and ends with opera, includes the actors and the gaffers and the people coughing in their recliners. There are no homeless in the orchestra. There is no “White Only” sign. This opera is the lyric…

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Masks for Mental Health


The mask project at Painted Brain is geared towards the destigmatization of mental illness. We hope to achieve this by putting a face to mental illness. Contributors at Painted Brain are making masks and then taking them off and talking about what it’s like to live with mental illness. Some contributors have made videos when they are speaking out about their particular experiences and we hope that members from the public who are unable to come to Painted Brain community center will create their own masks and submit videos as well.

Expression through art is what Painted Brain is all about. We do not have art therapy but rather various art groups where we encourage people to participate at their own comfort level. This creates a relaxed environment for people to express themselves and be who they are. Additionally, there is the opportunity to expand your creative network, learn new artistic skills, collaborate on projects together, gain inspiration and make new friends.

Fun Times with Melted Crayons

A new and exciting way to get the most of our your crayon stubs!  Women’s Day  is producing colorful works of art through recycling of what would be considered waste.  You know the broken or stubby crayons that you never use?  There is a beautiful way to put them to use and it is really easy.  All one needs is wax paper or any canvas you feel comfortable using.  A blow dryer, crayon shavings, and something to turn the crayons into shavings, such as an exact knife or a cheese grater (please use caution when using sharp items).  Once you have decided the colors you would like to use and the effect you would like to express, then you will want to create the shavings.  After you have reached the desired amount of shavings, you will place them on your canvas.  For the featured images, we took a pice of wax paper and folded it in half, placed the shaving between the wax paper, then used a blow dryer to begin heating the crayons up.  Once the desired amount of melting has taken place you will have a lovely piece to use.  As an added component, art is great way to self-soothe and cope with the daily stresses of life!  Next week we will be making candle art so stay tuned in for more fun ways to work with crayons or just come in to Painted Brain and enjoy the camaraderie amongst fellow artists!


Women’s Mental Health

Why we need to address the causes of mental health disparities between men and women.

Painted Brain


There are four mental health issues that affect women at much higher rates than men.  It is estimated that twice as many women will experience depression as men, an estimated 10-15% of women overall.  Factors for this include hormonal fluctuations as well as social, cultural, and environmental factors.  Most women are raised to internalize their feelings rather than express them openly like men, while still bearing the brunt of household, caregiving, and family responsibilities.  Women also earn less on average than men do, and the careful balancing of financial responsibilities combined with household tasks can easily lead to feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and guilt.

Women are also twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders.  Again, the socialization of women in our culture comes into play-with men being modeled to express their emotions externally and women being taught that holding emotions internally is preferable.

Another mental health issue…

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Mask Making for Mental Health


Mental health awareness is comprised of many things, including educating ourselves and the public about what it’s like to live with mental illness.  In an effort to fit in, people with mental illness often wear a mask in order to present as “normal.” The willingness of those who live with mental illness to speak out about it is a powerful way to break the stigma. People living with mental health issues can participate in the unmasking and education of those around them by being vulnerable and willing to show their face; the face of mental illness.

Mask making encourages you to explore the persona you show or conceal from the world. It’s a great exercise which can bring to consciousness how we see ourselves or how we would like to me seen. Individuals can decorate both the inside and outside of the mask according to what they show the world on the outside and how they see themselves on the inside. This does not necessarily need to be done in a therapeutic environment in order to be beneficial.  Speaking with someone who lives with mental illness, helps dispel the misunderstandings that many have about the illness while helping those with mental illness feel less ashamed of their condition. We all have family, friends and coworkers who are living with mental illness. As long as people feel the need to hide their mental illness, the stigma will persist. Often being diagnosed with a mental illness can cause people to feel alone. The more we speak out about mental illness, the more faces we can put to mental illness, the more we can all heal.

Elyn Saks Mental Health Ted Talk

Chow down on this kiddos. Elyn Saks is a boss. She has gone through more struggles in life than most, and she has come out more resilient and successful. She is a superwoman. If you haven’t watched this ted talk, click on it now. If you know someone who is insensitive or misunderstands those who struggle with mental health, send this their way.  I can’t recommend this enough. Doing a sensitivity training at work? Play this. Teaching a class at school? Play this. Sitting on your ass bored. Play this.I’m not gonna ramble about this anymore. Play this (Click for Ted Talk)!

Overstated Hope for Mental Health and Schizophrenia?

The findings of this new study are hopeful for persons suffering from schizophrenia, or at least that is what this article aims for you to believe. To give background, antipsychotic medications come with a myriad of side effects, and can create issues for those who rely on them. In certain circumstances, due to side effects of medications those suffering from schizophrenia are forced to come off the meds, which assist them in functioning and due to medical complications. This new study finds that a team base treatment approach can help those suffering from first episode psychosis. However , the theme of the article appears to be more hopeful than when actually reading the study.

The study had limited success in showing that talk therapy can be useful, but with a very specific population of those with mental health issues, notably those with schizophrenia. Even within this diagnosis, only those suffering their first break have shown improvement through this method. More research is necessary to determine whether of not this study and its methods will be available to a larger portion of the mental health population. While this study has limitations, and this treatment approach won’t be readily available, it has future potential to help others.