For public health professionals and advocates who want to communicate more effectively with the housing, education, health systems, and business sectors about the value of collaboration
Illustrate how the field of public health is transforming to meet 21st century needs
The Goal & The Challenge
When the goal is… to help other sectors appreciate the expansive, adaptive, and forward-thinking nature of the public health field…
The challenge is… their thinking easily reverts to the field’s more traditional roles, like responding to disease outbreaks or running awareness campaigns to encourage healthy behaviors. This limited view makes it difficult for other sectors to understand why public health is involved in broad social issues, like job training or homelessness, which they see as not directly related to health.
When You Say…Public health is moving beyond the narrow focus of preventing and managing the spread of infectious disease to help communities thrive. We’re committed to working with doctors and nurses, but also teachers, landlords, counselors, business owners, policymakers, and others to ensure that all people have access to the essential resources that optimize health.
They Think…Why are public health professionals getting involved in issues so far outside of their domain? They should stick to what they’re good at, like conducting restaurant inspections and reminding people to get their flu shots.
Framing can help
Framing can help alleviate some of the confusion for other sectors by acknowledging that, historically, the field did serve a narrower function, but that it has evolved and is still transforming. Be sure to highlight where the field is going by referring to specific attributes of Public Health 3.0, and make clear that it is adopting innovative approaches that are increasingly responsive to the needs of an interconnected and modern world.
An effective reframe would look something like this:
New health challenges require new solutions and innovative partnerships. Public health is adapting to meet 21st-century needs, and generating cutting-edge knowledge about how health outcomes are influenced—in both positive and negative ways—by nearly all aspects of social life. For example, public health research has shown that teen suicide rates can be significantly reduced when teachers receive standard professional training in how to support positive mental health for their students, and are able to recognize early signs of mental illness.
Remember, the reframe isn’t a ready-made talking point. It’s a sample iteration that models the framing recommendation in action.