Download: Public narratives
We can think of the pieces of an emerging* narrative of as frames or lenses through which we view our work or think about complex issues. The Healthy Minnesota Partnership, the Minnesota Department of Health, and community partners developed the following narratives between 2014 and 2018.
- Emerging elements of public narratives on health
- Income and health
- Paid family leave and health
- Transportation and health
- Incarceration inequities and health
- Burdensome debt and health
- Healthy food access
- Housing, home, and health
- Mental health and well-being
- Early childhood health
- African-American infant mortality
Emerging elements of public narratives on health
Emerging elements of public narratives on health (PDF): Narratives are rooted in values, based on data, and provide a structure upon which messaging and action can be built. The Partnership’s narrative is intended to influence a way of talking about health that conveys fundamental truths about the forces and factors shaping individual and community health. The Partnership uses this narrative to implement its overall strategic approach of expanding the conversation about what creates health as a means of advancing health equity and improving health for all. The Healthy Minnesota Partnership Narrative Strategy Team developed this narrative.
Income and health
Income and health (PDF): Income is more than a necessary source of obtaining basic goods; it is also a means of participating in community and civic life. Focusing only on the poverty of individuals misses the important implications of income distribution across whole communities. The emerging narrative helps lift up the connections between income and the health of individuals, families, and communities. The emerging narrative helped with efforts to expand legislative policy conversations on minimum wage at the Minnesota legislature.
Paid family leave and health
Paid family leave and health (PDF): Paid family leave helps individuals and families manage the many competing demands of life, and prevents parents from having to make impossible decisions, choosing between keeping their jobs and taking care of their family. The emerging narrative emphasizes the health benefits of paid family leave for children, parents, and communities, and helps to promote paid family leave policies in both the government and private sectors.
Transportation and health
Transportation and health (PDF): Having many options for transportation in a community—including transit—allows individuals and families to connect with schools, jobs, neighbors, friends, and families, and provides access to a wide range of essential needs, including food, recreation, and health care. This emerging narrative came about as part of statewide efforts to promote affordable transportation and multi-modal transportation options in Minnesota.
Incarceration inequities and health
Incarceration inequities and health (PDF): Although prisons and jails play a role in public safety, incarceration also disrupts families and communities, with serious impacts on well-being—especially for children. Inequities in rates of incarceration play a role in perpetuating inequality, community fragmentation, and generational trauma across populations of color. Minnesota incarcerates African-American men at a rate of nearly ten times that of white men. A diverse group of community stakeholders helped create this emerging narrative, which reveals the many health consequences of these incarceration inequities for families and communities, and points a way forward.
Burdensome debt and health
Burdensome debt and health (PDF): Crushing debt has far-reaching health impacts on individuals, families, and communities. Parents may have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, leaving little time for family and recreation. Students who graduate facing 30 years of debt may face financial barriers to starting a family or settling into a community. High debt and its related stress can come from multiple sources, including predatory lending practices, accumulation of student loan debt, high home costs and mortgage lending practices, and major life crises that precipitate job loss. This emerging narrative links these consequences to their health outcomes.
Healthy food access
Healthy food access (PDF): Lifelong health for everyone is not possible without access to a stable, healthy food supply. Yet in reality, healthy food is currently not available for everyone across the state. The emerging narrative helps reveal the role of policies in creating access to healthy and affordable food—policies that often favor the interests of business over people and make it challenging for people in some communities to access healthy food.
Housing, home, and health
Housing, home, and health (PDF): A home creates a place where a person can thrive, in the context of a loving family and a welcoming community. For example, housing stability is essential for the well-being of children; the physical condition of homes and the condition of neighborhoods have a direct impact on health; and stable housing helps create social cohesion. The emerging narrative on housing, home, and health helps convey important information about the many ways a place to call home connects to health.
Mental health and well-being
Mental health and well-being (PDF): Health is more than physical well-being; the body depends on positive mental health and well-being to function at its best. This emerging narrative emphasizes that mental health comes from the interaction between biology and experience, which shape the chemicals and structures of the brains, particularly during early childhood and adolescence. That experience includes the settings where we live, learn, work, and play; fear, trauma, and chronic stress; oppression; and physical illness. This emerging narrative also points out that communities, organizations, and decision-makers all can make a positive difference in mental health for populations across the state. MDH developed this narrative.
Early childhood health
Early childhood health (PDF): Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are essential for a healthy infancy and childhood. Families, businesses, government, and community organizations all play a role in creating these conditions. The emerging narrative highlights these conditions and roles for assuring that all children can be healthy. MDH and local health departments developed this narrative.
African-American infant mortality
African-American infant mortality (PDF): The Community Voices and Solutions Leadership (CVAS) team developed these narrative frames as part of the African-American Infant Mortality Project. These frames embody CVAS’ core values and beliefs regarding African-American infant mortality in Minnesota. The team developed these narrative frames primarily to help broaden and improve policy conversation around infant mortality in U.S.-born African-American families, to ensure that all efforts to address the issue are comprehensive and culturally appropriate. The narratives provide the foundation for messaging and for creating meaningful language for public discourse and future work in infant mortality.
* Why emerging? This language acknowledges that the work is ongoing, and that narratives are not meant to prescribe specific words, but meant to expand thinking and conversations with many possible words. [return to top]