Advancing Black Feminism In Public Health

Dr Quinn M. Gentry

By Dr. Quinn M. Gentry

Welcome to my blog on “Advancing Black Feminism in Public Health.” My goal is to move black feminism from the margins to the center of public health by applying 10 key principles as legitimate and comprehensive frameworks for adequately addressing health threats and related social and structural determinants of health in the lives of black women and girls.

Principle 9:

Apply Comprehensive Solutions to Problem-solving

In this blog, I engage mental health experts for principle no. 9 (of 10): Apply Comprehensive Solutions to Problem-solving for advancing black feminism in public health. 


“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not lead single issue lives.”

1. Consciousness-raising

Comprehensive solutions to public health threats are more effectively addressed when mental health is considered as the ultimate protective factor. This requires transformative thinking in the way we center mental wellness in public health interventions.


I have invited three (3) mental health experts with public health experience to provide insights on points of integration and synergy between our mental health and public health systems. 

Listen in as Reinette gives evidence-informed, theoretical frameworks for making mental health central to public health. Then we have a very personal and vulnerable discussion about black women and girls’ unmet mental wellness needs and how we must support each other even when that support is initially rejected. 

Listen in as Cheron discusses the essence of mental health counseling, and the difference between life coaching and mental health therapy. We also engage in discussion about how mental health experts can round out their professional skill by building organizational leadership and program administrative capacity.

Listen in as Dr. Bass discusses mental health and the pandemic within the context of upticks in substance use as a coping mechanism; and how to address public health issues through a lens of mental wellness. As I trust Dr. Bass as a therapist, I was very candid in sharing my own unhealthy coping strategies during the pandemic, as he shed some light on why many of us chose sugars and carbs to bring us comfort during COVID-19. 

2. Complementary approaches

  • Integrated approaches that center mental health within our public health system is paramount for optimum wellness. A critical starting point is to address our decentralized mental health system through sustainable partnerships between medical and mental health providers.
  • Communities of practice (CoPs) are an effective setting for strengthening the interconnection of mental health and public health as members collaborate in health problem solving. Key activities that shape CoPs include sharing lessons learned from various experts in their respective fields, engaging high profile stakeholders in evidence-informed policy recommendations, and cultivating new interventions.
  • Intervention mapping provides a framework for conceptualizing and building mental health capacity within public health interventions. Conceptualized by Bartholomew and associates, intervention mapping entails six iterative steps aimed at a structural approach to new intervention development, as follows: (1) conduct a needs assessment; (2) identify behavioral change objectives; (3) select theory-based intervention methods; (4) integrate programmatic capacity; (5)  devise an implementation and sustainability plan; and (6) generate an evaluation plan.
  • A systems of care framework provides guidance for coordinating community-based mental health services and public health interventions. Originally designed to reform mental health services for children, youth, and families, a systems of care framework helps collaborating organizations build meaningful partnerships within the least restrictive community-based settings
  • Dual-diagnosis for co-occurring disorders is a respectable case study for better outcomes when systems screen for, and treat, two or more disorders comprised of at least one mental illness and a substance use disorder. An even more inclusive model would be to link an individual’s medical conditions under the “no wrong door” treatment philosophy.
  • The concept of a syndemic (or synergistic epidemic) aids in understanding diseases or health conditions that are worsened based on a populations’ proximity to adverse social, economic, and environmental factors contributing to poor health. A syndemic orientation to care is necessary to address the complexity of multiple mental and physical conditions facing vulnerable groups, disproportionately affected by several public health issues, within the context of pre-existing social and structural determinants of health.  

3. Call to action

Mental Health M.A.T.T.E.R.S.

The collective call to action, as summarized in my interviews with mental health specialists, can be codified using an acronym of action verbs for what “matters” most in moving mental health from the margins to the center of public health:

  • Motivate


  • Assess


  • Transform


  • Talk


  • Empower


  • Relate


  • Sustain

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