Community Psychiatry

Health Services Research

UCLA HSS Faculty

Kenneth Wells is Affiliated Adjunct Staff at RAND and David Weil Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and of Health Policy and Management at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He is Director of the Semel Institute Center for Health Services and Society and Co-Director of the California Behavioral Health Center of Excellence and Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA. His research focuses on improving mental health outcomes, particularly depression, through a community-partnered, participatory research approach. Wells received the American Psychiatric Association’s Research Prize, Junior and Senior Investigator Awards of Academy Health and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. Wells co-led a major American Red Cross post-Katrina relief effort in New Orleans. Recognizing an important potential to improve communication about health by combining arts/media and health communication, he founded the Media and Medicine for Communities program at UCLA. His first opera, The First Lady, was performed at the Semel Institute in 2010. His second opera, The Center Cannot Hold, premiered in July 2016 in co-production with Pacific Opera Project. Wells is also Principal Investigator of Community Partners in Care (CPIC) and the Community and Patient Partnered Research Network. CPIC received the Association of Clinical and Translational Science 2014 Team Science Award, 2014 APHA Thomas Bruce Award, and 2015 Campus-Community Partnership for Health Annual Award.


Wells KB, Tang J, Lizaola L, Jones F, Brown A, Stayton A, Williams M, Chandra A, Eisenman D, Fogleman S, Plough A. Applying Community Engagement to Disaster Planning: Developing the Vision and Design for the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience (LACCDR) Initiative. AJPH. May 16, 2013. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed PMID: 23678916; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3682631.

Wells KB, Jones J, Chung B, Dixon EL, Tang L, Gilmore J, Sherbourne C, Ngo VK, Ong MK, Stockdale S, Ramos E, Belin TR, Miranda J. Community-Partnered Cluster- Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Community Engagement and Planning or Resources for Services to Address Depression Disparities. J Gen Intern Med. 2013; 28(10): 1268-1278. PubMed PMID: 23649787; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3785665.

Wells KB, Springgate BF, Lizaola E, Jones F, Plough A. Community Engagement in Disaster Preparedness and Recovery: A Tale of Two Cities—Los Angeles and New Orleans. Psychiatr Clin N Am. 36 (2013) 451–466. PubMed PMID: 23954058; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3780560.


  • Mentorship and involvement in the following projects:

Community Partners in Care (CPIC):

A collaborative research project of community and academic partners working together to learn the best way to reduce the burden that depression placed on the communities of South Los Angeles (SPA 6) and Hollywood-Metro LA (SPA 4).

CPIC was developed out of five years of collaborative work on how to address depression in communities, on many years of prior research on how to improve depression care in primary care settings, and on extensive efforts to address health disparities through community-partnered initiatives.

CPIC asks the question of whether agencies and communities working together through a community engagement process is a better way of improving depression services and client outcomes than agencies working alone.

Community and Patient Partnered Research Network (CPPRN):

The CPPRN is a Los Angeles County (LAC) and New Orleans (NO) program that collaborates with under-resourced communities to improve behavioral health services by:

  • Developing policies with stakeholders via the Community Partnered Participatory Research (CPPR) approach and community relationships developed through longstanding community relationships.

  • Creating a reproducible approach to participatory research infrastructure development involving patients, caregivers, clinicians, and community stakeholders.

  • Develop research and data infrastructure using a partnered working group process with collaborative decision making.

The CPPRN engages patients and community stakeholders through CPPR in co-leading research relevant to communities.

Healthy Neighborhood Initiative (HNI):

A Los Angeles County policy initiative that aims to:

  • Improve coordination of services for behavioral health clients across county agencies

  • Address locally-prioritized social determinants of mental health, such as poor housing, poverty, unemployment, substance use, trauma or violence.

Center of Excellence (COE):

The Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence (COE) at UCLA and UC Davis are designed to build on the promise of the California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), specifically to support excellence in services through excellence in research, on the themes that underlie the MHSA (innovation in prevention, early intervention, recovery, and disparities in mental health care).

A key goal of the COE is to engage diverse stakeholders to promote understanding and relevance of research and translation into practice. Like the MHSA, which aims to transform mental health services delivery to improve quality of life for individuals with mental illness living in California, the Centers of Excellence seek to expand and transform the research evidence that informs mental health care, thereby promoting the current and future innovation necessary to improvements in the quality of life for those who suffer. While both the UCLA and UC Davis Centers concentrate on research to improve mental health services and advance our understanding of mental disorders and treatments, UC Davis has a focus on interventions for early psychosis while UCLA has a focus on addressing mental health disparities. Both Centers conduct translational science across the lifespan, with stakeholder engagement.