Sarah and John both have a brain injury. They also have interests, talents and unique personalities. Sarah enjoys teaching and John loves music.
Sarah and John are just two of the Minnesotans living with a disability who helped create “Treat People Like People – Abuse Stops With Us” — a high-profile new campaign designed to raise awareness of abuse of adults with disabilities. The campaign was initiated by the Minnesota Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (OMHDD), and the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). The Department of Human Services (DHS) will also soon be joining as a partner and funder of the campaign.
From 2012 through 2016 there was an increase of more than 2,000 maltreatment reports of vulnerable adults in the state, according to DHS. During this same period, reports of neglect increased 38 percent among people with disabilities, and abuse grew by 26 percent.
In response to these trends, OMHDD and GCDD have developed a plan to raise awareness of abuse and mistreatment and educate people with disabilities, their families and guardians, mandated reporters and the general public on how to identify and report instances of abuse. An overarching goal of the initiative was to show that individuals living with disabilities are valuable, unique human beings deserving of respect and inclusion. To help deliver this message people with disabilities shared, in their own voices, their experiences and stories.
In one of the videos produced for the campaign, Sarah describes the struggles she experiences communicating with her caregivers. “When I’ve discovered difficulties or problems, I am having with staff … it’s that I don’t know how to ask for help in the right way, because of my disability,” she said.
The videos as well as tools and resources for direct care providers, vulnerable Minnesotans, their families and the public are available on the new TreatPeopleLikePeople.org website.
The online destination helps those in need respond and report abuse and neglect. Minnesotans can report abuse and neglect against people living with disabilities by calling the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC) at 844-880-1574.
“We are excited to launch the “Treat People Like People” initiative. By working together to raise awareness, Minnesota can be a place where people with disabilities are living, learning, working, and enjoying life,” said Roberta Opheim, the State Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. “I want to thank the many talented people, adults with disabilities, their family members, and professionals in policy and care provision, who gave generously of their time and energy to make this campaign a reality.”
Russell Herder, a Minneapolis-based strategic marketing and advertising firm, was retained to develop the multimedia awareness plan and campaign and we thank them for their sensitivity and commitment to the people the campaign represents.
About the Minnesota Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities:
The mission and vision of the OMHDD is to promote the highest attainable standards of treatment, competence, efficiency and justice for persons receiving services for mental health, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency or emotional disturbance.
About the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities:
The mission of the GCDD is to provide information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increases independence, productivity, self-determination, integration and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families.