Mental Health Bill Passes In The State House Of Representatives

Wednesday, April 20th 2016, 7:59 pm

A bill that would allow the courts to step in if those with mental illness are not taking their medication passes unanimously in state the House of Representatives. 

“I promise I will not stop,” Cathy Costello, Mark Costello’s wife, said. “I will work hard to advocate for mental health reform in this state and in our nation, because we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and I love all of you."

Even after getting House Bill 1697 passed unanimously in the House and Senate, Cathy Costello said she isn't ready to rest. 

Her husband, Mark Costello was stabbed to death by the couple's son, Christian, last year, police said. 

The family said Christian Costello had struggled with mental illness most of his life.

“There's no doubt in my mind that if this bill had been passed and was in place eight months ago, Mark Costello would be here,” Cathy Costello said. “He would be alive today because my son needed help being on his medication."

House Bill 1697, also known as the Mark Costello Act, would allow people who are under the care of the Department of Mental Health to be ordered by a court to take their medication. It also allows families to have a say in their treatment.

“This just allows a family member, sibling or parent to come in to the treatment of people that have a mental health diagnosis, and basically what it will do is help them stay on their medication," state Rep. Lee Denney said.

“It's for those people who have very severe mental illness, who have difficulties staying on their medication,” Cathy Costello said. “They have a history of non-compliance.  They have multiple hospitalizations."

The Costellos said this is a good first step but there's still a lot of work to be done.

“Mental illness does not discriminate,” Cathy Costello said. “It doesn't care if you're Republican or Democrat or if you're black or white or protestant or Catholic or gay or straight. It doesn't matter. It does not discriminate."

The Costellos said they believe the bill passed unanimously in part because people at the Capitol knew Mark Costello.  But they also hope this means the stigma surrounding mental illness is beginning to fade. 

The bill now goes before the governor. 


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