Beating the system: Workers and advocates helping the disabled

Thomas used the term victimization to describe what's happening. (Louis Finley/KTVO)

Mental health advocate Ed Thomas says it's not the people in the system failing those with disabilities, it's the system itself.

"People that are in the system itself are good-hearted people, and they're trying to do the best that they can do with the rules that are currently guiding them," Thomas said.

Thomas spoke to the Missouri Crisis Intervention Team in Kirksville on Thursday. The group is comprised of law enforcement and medical professionals seeking to promote change in that very system.

Mark Wellman with the Kirksville Police Department is one of the organizers.

"It gives our people a much broader knowledge base on how to deal with people who are having the mental health crisis," Wellman said.

Thomas used the term victimization to describe what's happening.

"Abuse, neglect exploitation. Abuse can be sexually abuse. It can be physical abuse," Thomas said.

Thomas said it’s so prevalent, it might be happening under your nose.

"The most concerning situations are those with the people who live in the community, who are seen by the community members, but they don't know that they are being victimized," Thomas said.

Thomas said the prevalence of victimization is four to ten times that of the general population.

"This gives us an idea of the different agencies that will be involved in perhaps people not being victimized," Wellman said.

Wellman said the relationships in this group help streamline those issues.

But Thomas said in order to get justice for these individuals, if you see something, say something.

"It is their business. It's our businesses. It's your business," Thomas said.
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