Can an original theater production on coping with depression and social issues help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness among African Americans and, in turn, encourage them to get help?

With a grant from the California Arts Council, Kia Skrine Jeffers, a nursing postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program, hopes to use the arts to reflect the human experience back to audiences in a way that encourages mental and physical well-being and fights stigma.  

Skrine Jeffers will collaborate with the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society and Healthy African American Families on this innovative project.  Using data collected from the center's Partners in Care project on coping with depression and social issues among racial/ethnic minorities, Skrine Jeffers plans to develop a participatory play together with and for racial/ethnic minority community members. The goal is to increase understanding of individuals’ experiences with depression as they navigate daily life and choose whether or not to seek mental health services.

This grant was one of just four grants awarded to California-based scholars by the California Arts Council. This concept is unique in its endeavor to bring attention to the role of the arts in health, partnership among clinicians, patients and communities as well as provide a mechanism to evaluate impact in research.

Skrine Jeffers’ research focuses on the social experiences of racial/ethnic minority groups, and how those experiences impact health. She was a collaborator on the development of the Ethnocultural Gerontological Nursing Model. This model provides a framework for researchers to investigate and interpret differences in health between racial and ethnic groups by considering their unique social and cultural contexts.

She has also examined the associations between African-American seniors’ experiences with structural racism throughout their life and their diabetes-related experiences in older age.