Former N.J. governor continues efforts to help mentally ill

A former New Jersey governor is launching a public campaign to end the stigma associated with mental illness.

There are some significant needs in New Jersey that must be addressed to improve mental illness treatment, said state Sen. Richard Codey.

“I think services because it use to be there was a lot of psychiatric beds throughout our hospital system. There no longer is,” he said. “And support groups as well.

When Codey’s wife, Mary Jo, suffered postpartum depression 29 years ago, she promised she would do something to help others who are mentally ill.

“I told my husband we had to do something to help those who have fallen, or would fall, into the black hole of mental illness,” she said. “It’s terrifying and lonely and, unfortunately, can feel very shameful for those of us who are going through it and [our] families.”

The Codey Fund for Mental Health created by the former governor has received pledges of more than $200,000. The foundation will support Depression Anonymous and postpartum support groups, as well as sending speakers to schools and colleges to talk about suicide.

Codey, D-Essex, anticipates that the Affordable Care Act could have a positive impact on efforts to deal with mental illness.

“I know a lot of people in the addiction industry feel Obamacare is going to be very helpful to them in getting reimbursed for people with addictions, many who obviously are mentally ill,” he said Thursday.

Mental disorders are common throughout the U.S., affecting tens of millions of people each year,according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Only a fraction of those affected receive treatment.

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