The Mandt System- The Perspective of a Family Member, Service Provider and Advocate
I attended my first Mandt System event in the early 90’s. At that time I was a policy specialist for the Texas Protection and Advocacy System (P&A). For years I had been involved with the development of policies, regulations and legislation which impacted individuals with disability. In that effort I needed to learn what vendors were teaching about how to intervene in emergency situations involving individuals with a disability. I was familiar with the state program and experienced training from other programs. My employment as a social worker in a state run psychiatric hospital for 13 years and 2 years as a client abuse investigator and client rights officer at the state office of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, provided me with a familiarity of the inner workings of the MHMR system. I had a relationship with service providers in the MHMR system, both inpatient and community based.
My first impression of The Mandt System was formed when the instructor said “if this is not something you would do to your mother, father, sister or brother you don’t do it to anyone else”. My thought was “well that’s different”. At the end of the 5 day training event, I told peers, “this is not about how to work with individuals with disabilities, it is about how people should treat people and everyone under God’s blue sky should take it”. My perception was that while other programs focused on control and compliance, The Mandt System focused on treating EVERYONE with respect and dignity to develop relationships where there is a trust. The idea being that when an individual escalates, they may be able to de-escalate because the person knows and trusts you.
As a social worker and family member of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness, what appealed most to me was the idea that rather than depending external control, the focus was on teaching an individual how to develop skills to manage their own behaviour. Many individuals are housed in inpatient or residential settings because of their poor impulse control. The training the staff received focused on the use of external control. The result was when the individual leaves the setting; the external control becomes law enforcement or juvenile justice, resulting in the recidivism I witnessed over the years.
Family members and support systems have to struggle with the very difficult decision of getting their loved ones inpatient treatment often against their will. They should be able to expect that the services provided are not simply going to focus on the symptoms and maladaptive behaviour of the individual, but will teach skills that will lead to increased community tenure. The Mandt System philosophy is consistent with that idea.
I began to advocate for the use of The Mandt System while working as a policy specialist at the Protection and Advocacy System, a system that focuses on reduction if not elimination of the use of restraint and seclusion. I found The Mandt System training to be consistent with that goal. I began to promote the use of the Mandt System to the Protection and Advocacy Systems.
As a social worker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to teach service providers, individuals receiving services and family member’s skills that will teach the individual how to manage their own behaviour, a skill all of us have had to learn. The impact on the individual is increased self esteem, self confidence and a sense of being a valued and contributing member of society. As an employee of the Mandt System for three years now and serving as COO and Faculty I often share this story to reinforce the connected values that have got me to where I am in my journey to date.