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Northeast Delta HSA, Downtown Arts Alliance, NELA Arts Council Collaborate to Increase Mental Health Art Creation and Display to Improve Population Health

MONROE, LA – Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) has adopted arts as one of its integrated health care, evidence-based prevention, communications, and treatment strategies to help serve persons with mental health, addictive disorders, and developmental disabilities.

The agency has partnered with the Downtown Arts Alliance (DAA) and the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council (NELAC) to support this work. DAA is a non-profit comprised of a working board of volunteers involved in many other community organizations and arts advocates for visual and performing mediums. NELAC’s mission is to nurture a vibrant regional arts culture through support, promotion, and education.

Through the DAA and NELAC collaboration, NEDHSA aims to seek qualified artists and craft-makers to submit qualifications and to design art and craft work in various mediums for NEDHSA. This artwork will reflect mental health, addiction, and developmental disability aspects that will be presented at the February 2023 Downtown Gallery Crawl.

NEDHSA Executive Director Dr. Monteic A. Sizer said the agency “intentionally sparked this creative expression to help address mental health issues, reduce addiction-related stigma, and work to transform the region’s economy.”

“We believe there is medicine in creative expression, and the arts can help a person come alive in ways traditional treatment options can’t,” Dr. Sizer said. “We intend to help create an environment where dreams are realized, families are strong, bodies are healthy, community institutions are thriving, and spirits are renewed. We are proud of this first-of-its-kind work in our region.”

According to the Americans for the Arts, 69 percent of the United States population believe the arts “lift me beyond everyday experiences,” 73 percent feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in,” and 81 percent say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”

In February 2023, the selected artists and craft-makers will reveal their original art pieces during the Downtown Gallery Crawl on both sides of the Ouachita River – Monroe and West Monroe, La. After the event, NEDHSA will begin a museum exhibition tour of the work throughout the 12 parishes it serves. DAA President Brooke Foy said, “it is a great experience to see a strong creative community come together.”

“The Downtown Arts Alliance is excited to see this collaboration come to fruition,” Foy said. “We can’t wait to see what our community of artists creates.” NELAC Community Development Coordinator Abigail Handy said they are “grateful for the work that the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority is doing in our region.”

“We believe that the arts can and do play an intricate part in mental health,” Handy said. “This partnership with NEDHSA and DAA to raise mental health awareness through the arts is something that we as an organization are proud to be a part of.” NEDHSA has brought many art initiatives to the region, such as psychodramas, Jiggaerobics, hip-hop-to-prevention efforts, and partnering with arts and communications programs at regional colleges and universities.

Earlier this year, the agency partnered with the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana to complete public art murals where they presented work in Downtown Monroe, on Grambling State University’s campus, and in Lake Providence. Each public art mural helped NEDHSA bring awareness to mental health and addiction-related stigma.

In December 2021, NEDHSA sponsored a mural created by the University of Louisiana Monroe Honors Art Class and the Art & Entrepreneurship Class that was designed and constructed as a public art project to inspire ULM students to seek help, destigmatize seeking help and provide solutions to help overcome mental health issues. NEDHSA will also return to the performing stage on January 28, 2023, to present two free showings of “Sour Grapes,” a faith-based and mental health psychodrama at the Monroe Civic Center. Dr. Sizer said, “we said we would be the catalyst in our region to help ensure all citizens are thriving and living their full human potential.”

“NEDHSA intends to continue to make Northeast Louisiana a regional creative hub, a preferred destination that will generate much-needed regional economic development, diversity, job creation, and more,” Dr. Sizer said.

For more information, contact Public Information Director DeRon Talley by emailing deron.talley@la.gov.

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Picture of Dr. Monteic A. Sizer
Dr. Monteic A. Sizer

Dr. Monteic A. Sizer serves as Executive Director of Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (Northeast Delta HSA). He joined the organization in May 2013 as its first Executive Director. He is uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of citizens located in the twelve Northeast Delta HSA parishes he represents because he exemplifies how people can meet their greatest human potential based on accountability, integrity and a willingness to engage in their own lives.

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