Welcome to my academic website.
My name is Dr. Millicent N. Robinson.
I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the UNC School of Social Work through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, and my research centers the stress, coping, health, and healing experiences of Black women. More specifically, my research agenda integrates theories and perspectives from Social Work, Public Health, African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, and Medical Sociology to address four key issues: (1) interconnections between mental and physical health, (2) culturally-relevant forms of coping, (3) complementary and alternative medicine, and (4) ethnic heterogeneity among Black women.
The purpose of this website is to share information about myself, the work that I am doing, and to build a community with other scholars and individuals who are interested and engaged in this work. In order to achieve health equity, it is important to foster genuine and equitable interdisciplinary partnerships, specifically to ensure that we share information and findings broadly.
One of my key roles includes serving as Programs Consultant for Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.
We must center the experiences and perspectives of communities that are and have been heavily and adversely impacted by inequities. Even more so, we must ensure that these communities are able to access the information and resources needed to achieve optimal health and well-being, which requires the dismantling of oppressive systems.
Due to systemic oppression, Black women experience distinct risks across the life course, such as exposure to various stressors that shape lower ratings of self-rated health. This is important given that self-rated health is a stronger indicator of current morbidity and subsequent mortality than physician assessments. However, there has been limited consideration of the role of coping in shaping self-rated health among this group. John Henryism, or high-effort coping, is a culturally relevant coping style that reflects the broader societal, cultural, and historical context that shapes lived experiences of Black populations navigating racism and capitalism in the U.S., and has received limited consideration in health research among Black women. Additionally, less is known regarding how ethnicity shapes John Henryism and health processes among Black women specifically. Therefore, the present study examined the association between John Henryism and self-rated health among African American and Caribbean Black women (n = 1580) collectively, and explored this association among Caribbean Black women specifically, utilizing the National Survey of American Life (NSAL 2001–2003). Findings show that while John Henryism was not directly associated with self-rated health among either group, once sociodemographic characteristics and stress exposure were accounted for, John Henryism was associated with lower odds of fair or poor self-rated health among both groups.
Robinson, M.N. (2022). “Pushing Past Limits: How Efficacious is High-Effort Coping for Self-Rated Health among African American and Caribbean Black Women?” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health-Special Issue. 19(20):13460.
Purpose: Recent research suggests the determinants of and links between psychological distress and psychiatric disorder are distinct among Black Americans. Yet, these associations have not been explored among Black women, despite the unique social experiences, risks, and mental health patterns they face. The present study assessed the sociodemographic and psychosocial determinants of distress and disorder and evaluated the distress–disorder association, including whether it was conditional on sociodemographic and psychosocial characteristics among Black women.Methods: Data were from 328 Black women in the Nashville Stress and Health Study, a cross-sectional community epide-=miologic survey of Blacks and Whites in Nashville, Tennessee, and was used to assess the correlates of distress (CES-D depressive symptoms scale) and major depressive disorder (MDD; based on the CIDI). Multinomial logistic regression models estimated the extent to which greater distress was associated with higher risk of “chronic” or “resolved MDD”. Results: Stress exposure and marital status were associated with greater distress, while stress exposure and childhood SES were associated with elevated disorder risk. Although increased distress was associated with greater disorder risk, significant interactions indicated these associations depend on differences in age and adult socioeconomic status within this population. Conclusions: This study identifies distinct correlates of distress and disorder and shows that the distress–disorder association varies among subgroups of Black women. Results have important implications for public health research and practice, as they highlight the factors that matter most for the mental health outcomes of Black women.
Robinson, M.N., Erving, C.L. & Thomas Tobin, C.S. Are Distressed Black Women Also Depressed? Implications for a Mental Health Paradox. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2022).
Brief infographic summary slides
In the Press
The six Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity researchers will gain funding and mentorship through this three-decade-old program, a model for diversity in higher education.
Six Fielding School students who are active members of FSPH’s Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health discuss what motivates their academic work and how they hope to make a difference.
In a season of immense growth, we are so grateful to have Millicent N. Robinson, MSW, MPH, as part of our experienced team. Earlier this month we spoke about her work and the connection with Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.
“Millicent Robinson has served as intern, consultant, and employee with CCPH for the past 3 years. In these multiple roles, she has provided invaluable support including curriculum design and administrative management of multiple projects and initiatives. Most noteworthy is her attention to structural racism and its impact on public health. Millicent has provided administrative support for our annual Introduction to Structural Inequities/Racism Intensive. She has coordinated the logistics associated with the in-person sessions both in North Carolina and Louisiana. Millicent has provided the associated evaluation from the sessions based on participant feedback and related information useful in analyzing the processes and outcomes of the training.
Millicent is a highly organized professional whose attention to timelines has significantly contributed to the overall success of multiple initiatives within our organization. Her commitment to social justice and health equity including progressive scholarship has also served to support our efforts to generate an expansive repository of curated products that support professionals engaged in partnered efforts to eliminate structural racism.”– Al Richmond, Executive Director, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health