We hear a clinical social worker’s perspective on healthcare from Daniel Mango in this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare podcast with Rob Oliver. Daniel has expertise in mental health and treating mental health issues. He is also passionate about serving the African-American community. A member of Generation X, Daniel joined the podcast from California.
Here are 3 things that stood out as Daniel Mango gave a clinical social worker’s perspective on healthcare:
- Mental health is a key component of overall wellness. It contributes to our motivation and function in all aspects of our lives.
- A healing circle offers participants an opportunity to share, bond, and develop action strategies. It can be used to address mental health issues as well as community stress points.
- Continuous stress (CPSD) often occurs in communities with low socioeconomic status, high crime, and historical oppression. It can be a contributor to ongoing mental health issues.
You can learn more about Daniel Mango and follow his work through the links below:
Here is the transcript of Rob Oliver interviewing Daniel Mango on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast:
Introduction to Daniel Mango
Rob Oliver: Thank you and welcome. Today’s perspective comes from Daniel Mango. He is out in California. He is a member of Generation X. He is a licensed clinical social worker who works in the arena of mental health. Daniel, welcome to the podcast.
Daniel Mango: Hey, it’s great to be on here.
Rob Oliver: You bet. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in healthcare, please.
Daniel Mango: Yeah, definitely. So I’m Daniel Mango. Thanks for introducing me. I’m a social worker by trade. I’m also a therapist and I’m a mental health clinician. So what I do in healthcare is mental health. That’s also part of your overall wellness and yeah, the mental health part is a huge key component that keeps us going throughout the day, but also keeps us, you know, moving and motivated throughout our lives as well.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Talk to me about, are you, is there a particular area of mental health? Are you doing like general counseling? Are there particular, you know, are there particular groups that you work with? Are there particular issues that you are focused on or what’s, what’s kind of your take on mental health?
Daniel Mango: Yeah, great question. So that’s a varied answer. You know, I kind of serve everyone. I mean, as social workers, that’s what we do. We don’t turn any population down, but specifically just because I’m a black identifying male, I do work with black folks a lot. I started the black mental health program at our nonprofit about a year ago and yeah, I just work with black mental health a lot, just trying to get folks equitable, you know, and quality healthcare and mental health care as well.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Are you finding that there are particular issues that are unique to the population that you work with or that, or at least that you see represented more, you know, quite often within the population?
Daniel Mango: Yeah, definitely. I think racial trauma is a huge one. And then, you know, racial trauma causes PTSD. So that’s a big one that we face in the black community a lot just trying to heal through that. And we do these circles, healing circles, bring people together and try to work out their you know, some of the issues that they have, some of the complaints they have and try to lessen some of those stressors that they have in their community through from all those historical, you know, traumas and that historical oppression that that community has faced.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Can you talk about a healing circle? Because I’m assuming it’s not everybody sitting around the campfire holding hands and singing Kumbaya. There’s there’s something more to it. Talk to me about what what happens with the healing circle, please.
Daniel Mango: Exactly. Yeah. So healing circles are based from Africa, a lot of different civilizations that use them indigenous ones and everything else. But basically a healing circle is people come together and they talk, they share, they bond together. And the cool thing about our healing circles, it’s not just about the healing and talking about your trauma. We also have actionable steps and we also have a learning component. So then we work together with everyone within that circle to find out what’s going on in their community or what’s happening in their life. And then we work together to try to relieve that. So that healing circle not only provides trauma healing, but it provides a connection and a sense of self and a sense of community.
Rob Oliver: Okay, so I’m I come at things from a similar from a similar viewpoint from this thought as I’m a person with a disability, okay. And so I understand trauma recovery. I understand some of the, I understand how some times the initial experience of when I acquired my disability is not the only trauma that I experience. There are other traumatic experiences that come from my interactions with people based on how they treat me. And can you talk a little bit about that idea? Because like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to say this tritely, but it’s not like somebody wakes up at 21 and all of a sudden discovers that they’re African American or, you know, it’s been a lifelong experience. And there are some people that have that disability experience and, but the trauma that comes with it is not necessarily from the race itself, but from the experiences that follow from being part of that race. Does that make sense as a question?
Daniel Mango: Yeah, makes perfect sense. Yeah. So you’re kind of hitting on, you know, things we think about a generational trauma and that continuous trauma that kind of happened. So, you know, there’s PTSD, but there’s also CPSD, which is like a continuous trauma that kind of happens. And this happens in, you know, a lot of communities that may be in low socioeconomic, you know, situations, there might be a lot of crime, there might be a lot of substance use, there might be a lot of things. So that environment is also causing the trauma, but also, you know, the disability, right? When people think about trauma and how you’re treated by others, you also have to think about, you know, our norms, right, in our society. So our society is patriarchal, it’s heterosexual, heteronormative, right? And it’s mostly white. So that’s like the norm and the standard everyone has, people are also able. So when they see people with disabilities, they think less, right? And you can have stereotypes about that and everything else. But folks with disabilities are just like everyone else, right? They have the same issues, the same kind of problems in life. You know, they just have a disability, right? But what is that mechanism that’s causing that discrimination, that prejudice, and we see that throughout the communities that we work in. And we also see that leads to those inequities that we have in society as well.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, and it took me a number of years before I came to understand that the prejudice, the bias that exists, it exists in everybody, but it is a reflection on them and their thought press and not their thought process, not necessarily reflection on me and my value. And meaning this, just because when they think less of me because of my disability, the only way that I am lessened by that is if I accept their thought process. It actually says there’s a thought in a way that a flaw in the way that they think.
An example of quality healthcare
Rob Oliver: So anyway, let’s ask this and can you give me an example of quality health care?
Daniel Mango: Yeah, so that’s a good one. So this is something I’ve always tried to, you know, figure out, you know, as a social worker, as a therapist, what is quality health care, you know, because it looks different for everyone else. And the other thing we have to think about when we think about health care, but also mental health and access and everything is those intersections, right? Now, somebody that comes from a neighborhood that’s fully funded, maybe they’re in a class, you know, that’s socially more acceptable. Maybe they’re a part of a race or ethnicity that’s more, you know, seen as more human and more willing to have these kind of different services and everything else. So that’s kind of like what the standard is, right, when it comes to health care and everything else. Yeah, and sorry, Rob, I kind of forgot.
The definition of quality healthcare
Rob Oliver: So you’re telling me a little bit about what what your thoughts are as far as the definition of quality health care.
Daniel Mango: And then, yeah, I think quality health care honestly is just, you know, meeting the person where they are and listening to them and working in collaboration with them. And what I mean by this is like a lot of times when we go to the doctor, we’re in this role, right? We are the patient or the client. And here’s the doctor. They’re the expert, right? But what we try to do is kind of put it down on the same level and we work in kind of partnership, right? Because at the end of the day, you know yourself more than the doctor will ever know you, right? You have that lived experience. You live in your body every single day. So I think it makes sense if, you know, you work together to collaborate on a solution that works for the both of you. And that also gives agency to the client and the patient. So we’re not always making them dependent on us. We’re also giving that, you know, skill and that empowerment to them so they can make better decisions for their own life. And those changes last longer when they’re not just directed from the doctor, when they start from the patient.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, it’s so interesting to hear you say that because I do a presentation as a keynote speaker for medical professionals called Robology 101. And the idea of Robology is they have an advanced degree in medicine. I have an advanced degree in me. I’ve been studying me for 50 years now. I’ve been studying spinal cord injury for almost 30 years. And I know my situation. Now, there are two things about that. Number one, it is important for medical professionals to respect my lived experience. Number two, it’s also important for patients to have the knowledge. You need to know as much about yourself and as much about your diagnoses and about your conditions as possible so that you can have an informed and engaged discussion about what’s going on with your life. And the other piece of that is so one of the things that I consistently hear from patients is I need my practitioners to listen to me. And the reason for that is they cannot hear what’s going on in the patient’s experience unless they are hearing what the patient is actually saying. Right. Who knows what the symptoms are better than the patient? Who knows what the experience is better than the patient? So ask the question and then listen to hear what they have to say and make sure that you listen fully with what’s going on with them. So I will acknowledge this, Daniel, I actually skipped a question and you did a brilliant job of answering the question that I skipped. So I’ll bring this back full circle.
What does quality healthcare look like?
Rob Oliver: You had given me kind of your definition of what quality health care is, and I’m wondering if you can give me an example of, you know, what does quality health care look like in the real world?
Daniel Mango: So one example I would say is having that empathetic kind of connection. Right. And I’ll use myself as an example. You know, I do have some disabilities myself and going to the doctor and dealing with them and getting them to understand me and not just rush me through. Right. And we know how, you know, medical the medical system is. Right. The capitalistic kind of tendencies that has get you in there really quick. Oh, I got to see some other people just going to kind of push you. Here’s some pills or here’s a referral to somebody else. There it goes. However, I think you sitting in that room with that person, just kind of talking with them, getting to know who they are is a really good thing. And I did have a professional medical professional do that. They kind of asked me about my life, even before what my symptoms were, my diagnosis was and everything else. We joked, we laughed a lot. They talked about my hair. I love talking about that. It’s a great conversation piece. And yet they just kind of sat and talked with me. Then the key question they asked was, what would you like to do today and what would you like me to know about your situation? And those words, I think, are very powerful when we’re talking about, you know, working with folks and professionals, because that puts, again, the client, they are centered, right? Because you’re asking that question first, because obviously I could have went into that situation. And the first thing I could have said is, OK, this is your problem. That’s your problem. Here’s the solution. Now you go. Right. And I never got a chance to say so. I think that’s a good example of having folks just want to listen, get to know you and then ask you what you’re trying to do. And then from there, they could bring in their expertise and everything else. But again, making that relationship where we kind of flatten the hierarchy and we’re there together working in tandem in a partnership.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, I understand exactly where you’re coming from. And let me give you the example from my life. And that is there are times when I go see a doctor and they are just enthralled with my my disability and, you know, kind of learning about that. And because of that, they want to test out a number of things and they miss out what my presenting issue is and the reason why I came into the office in the first place. And that’s got to be the central thing to say, OK, what brought you in today? Why like what do you need as far as treatment and like what are your goals in in being treated for what brought you into the office today? And I think that you very eloquently explain that concept as to what is going on with you.
What do you wish people understood about licensed clinical social workers?
Rob Oliver: So what do you wish people understood about your role in health care?
Daniel Mango: You know, I think the major thing is, is just like, you know, providers and everything are human, too, and we also struggle. I think that’s huge. You know, I worked as a school social worker for a while. I stopped that now I’m at the nonprofit, but I did that for about a year and I think it was like 2001. And, you know, great work. It’s really cool getting, you know, youth into mental health and everything. But, you know, as you’re in session with folks, they would ask you questions like, oh, Mr. Mango, you like it seems like your life is great. Everything’s going well. And I’m like, no, you know, to be honest with you, adults, you know, teachers, therapists, everything else, we have issues. And we also have to see as social workers, we have to see therapists as therapists, you know, and it kind of blows people’s minds. It’s like, wait, you don’t have all the answers. No, I don’t. And I tell people, you know, when we come in the space, I’m the dummy here. I don’t know anything. And they’re just like, wait, you know a lot. But I’m like, I don’t know you. So that’s the key that I’m missing. Right. And that’s how we build this relationship. And that’s how I’ve been able to do it, you know, throughout my time as a therapist is have that, that, that humility, have that kind of openness and that vulnerability telling people, you know, we struggle as well. And then when people see that, you’ll see like your clients actually start to help you out. Like they’ll come into the session and before they even talk about them, they’ll check in with you, see how you’re doing everything. So I think normalizing, you know, mental health is huge, you know, and the struggles that we have, but also showing that, you know, no matter who you are, even if you’re a CEO, Fortune 500, you’re a president, you’re, you know, somebody who works at a school, wherever you work, you have mental distress, there’s mental health problems, things happen. And that’s OK. You know, I think the key about that is just that stigma and discrimination, which is causing all these problems. Kind of what we were talking about earlier, you know, about the disability, about the race and everything.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, definitely. You know, it’s funny, you make me smile because I remember I think I was probably in fifth grade when when it it occurred to me that teachers go to the bathroom, OK, because like I one day my teachers, like everybody, you guys sit at your desk and take care of yourself. I’ve got to go to the restroom. And I was like, no way. Like, right. And so understanding that mental health practitioners have mental health issues, it’s really powerful. And, you know, even when you get into that and you have, you know, was it Jung that talked about the concept of the wounded healer and how that works together, you know, very powerful, powerful concept.
The Future of Healthcare
Rob Oliver: What excites you about the future of health care?
Daniel Mango: You know, I think honestly, the youth movement, I mean, it’s huge, it really gets me excited. So now at schools, we started a few of them, but it’s like those little groups that you have with I can’t remember the exact thing, but there’s these little mental health groups that you have with students, you know, after school or during school. And kids are just so into mental health. Right. And we have workshops and we let them lead them and we have presentations and we like to leave that. So I think this whole movement of youth mental health is huge. And I know like my parents and their parents, everything else, they weren’t able to talk about their feelings. They were able to talk about the conditions that are going on. They weren’t able to talk about what was a kind of making them feel anxious or depressed or sad and everything else. So I feel so great that now that language is becoming more normalized and there’s less stigma and everything else. But also youth now are using social media as a platform. Right. Social media can be used that people bully on their people, for people now, but they also share great information and see some of the stuff that all these youth are doing in terms of building mental health awareness, but also taking mental health into their own hands and want to become mental health practitioner. Yeah, that’s really excites me because one day I would like to be out of a job and I would like somebody else to kind of take the work because you can’t do this forever. Right. It’s burnout. It’s high and everything else. But yeah, just seeing that you so excited about it and people freely sharing definitely excites me.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. And I’ll just say this, that, you know, even within disability, there’s a hierarchy in the disability community and mental health is part of the disability community and it’s lower down or meaning like, hey, OK, I can’t walk, but at least I’m not nuts. Right. Which and I’m really not saying that that is my personal feeling, but it is it’s a concept that’s out there. And, you know, and even within that, for me, having a physical disability is a big difference than having a cognitive impairment or like something like a traumatic brain injury where I would be physically physically I would be OK, but the cognition side of things would be affected. I’ll be honest, there’s a side of me that I’m thankful for the fact that I have a physical disability and with my physical disability, my personality is still the same and personality is still intact. My I joke it’s my Robness is still there. OK. And so I think it’s important to understand, even when you look at the disability community, the stigma and bias that exists there, there are gradations of that within the community. So what you’re looking at is within the African-American community, there’s stigma and bias. And then within even there, there are there’s a hierarchy where there’s there’s mental health, which is a whole different component. And yet it has its own additional level of stigma, bias and prejudice that exists. So something a lot to think about there and a lot to unpack.
Improving the quality of healthcare
Rob Oliver: So our last question for you, what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?
Daniel Mango: You know, I think the main thing is what I mentioned earlier is just getting to know your patients and clients, you know, take the time to get to understand them. And I know there’s a lot of this talk about cultural competency. I don’t really like that term. And now it’s cultural humility. You know, it’s like learning about others. But yeah, you always have to grow. I mean, just because you went to medical school, just because you’re a therapist, you don’t know everything. You know, and that person who’s sitting across from you knows so much and they have so much to give, so many gifts to share, so many learnings to share. Yeah, engage in those conversations and just show them that you care, because, you know, I’m just tired of heading to the hospital to doctor, you know, and it just feels like a transaction, you know, I’m only there because, you know, you’re doing a job and you need me to be there. But show me that you really care. Show me that you’re empathetic. Show me your passion. And I think if you do that, you will see a difference. You know, and I think that’s what happens with a lot of folks in the communities I work in. It’s like they don’t want to engage in the services because they don’t feel welcome there. But if you took that time to just welcome folks, get to know them, connect where they are, learn about the things that they’re into. Yeah, I think that will definitely improve, you know, the quality of the health care that we receive in this country.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. Let me let me say it this way, and I just want to see if this resonates with you. OK. A lot of times medical practitioners can have the understanding of self-importance because the patient is coming into the office because they need me. Whereas there also needs to be the flip side understanding, which is I’m coming into the office because my entire work exists because of the patients I serve. I’m coming in because I need them as much as they need me. If no patients came into the office, then I have no reason for my job and my value goes away. So, yes, they need me, but as much as they need me, I need them as well. Does that resonate with you at all?
Daniel Mango: Yeah, it definitely does, and that’s the way I feel, too, and it’s just like one of those things where, you know, these people are here and they need help, but also like you might be that person who changes their life forever because at the end of the day, like I need so many clients and they say, you know, I had a bad experience with therapy. I never wanted to do it again. I hated it. I hate going to the doctor. And it’s because of those relationships. But just think about that, that person that you’re working with, you could change your life and you could get them more engaged with services by the way that you treat them. So, yeah, pass that on. And I know it’s hard, you’re overworked and things like that. But just think about that person, because at the end of the day, we became these professionals so we could serve these folks. And like you were saying, it’s not just about us anymore. It’s about that bigger sacrifice of how can we build a healthier world by taking care of ourselves, but also centering our patients, our clients.
Rob Oliver: Fantastic. Listen, Daniel Mango, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate you sharing. I appreciate your candor and I appreciate your perspective on health care.
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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.