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Governor Richard J. Codey to be Honored by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey

Governor Richard J. Codey
Governor Richard J. Codey
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) is pleased to honor Governor Richard J. Codey as a Golden Bell Leadership Award recipient. Governor Codey will be honored at the MHANJ’s Evening of Excellence on Wednesday, June 18, at the Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. “Governor Codey is a statewide champion for New Jerseyans with mental illness. He approaches a broad range of issues head-on, such as the need for improvements in psychiatric hospitals, fair treatment in homeless shelters, increased resources for housing and awareness of post-partum depression. We recognize his leadership and accomplishments in making long term improvements in the mental health system,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. 

Governor Codey began his career in State government in 1973 when he was elected to the Assembly at age 26. He served four terms before being elected to the New Jersey Senate in 1981 to represent the 27th Legislative District in Essex County.

As a Senator, Codey chaired the Institutions, Health and Welfare Committee in the Senate and soon became known for his advocacy for better care and treatment of the mentally ill. Early in his legislative career, he exposed major problems in state psychiatric hospitals when he assumed the name of a deceased convicted criminal and was hired at Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital. Governor Codey's now legendary "undercover" operation led to reforms that have significantly improved the quality of care and quality of life for patients in mental health facilities. Governor Codey continued to bring the struggles of the mentally ill to the forefront of the public's attention while serving 14 months as Governor of New Jersey. He created a Mental Health Task Force and implemented changes that created a dramatic improvement in New Jersey’s mental health system. During his tenure he proposed a Special Needs Housing Trust Fund which delivered $200 million for the Fund with $60 million for affordable housing for people with mental illness. Along with his wife Mary Jo, he launched a statewide postpartum depression awareness campaign.  In addition to those efforts, he sponsored legislation that requires doctors and healthcare professionals to screen and educate all new mothers for postpartum depression.

 “The Mental Health Association is on the front-lines in a two-front battle of educating society about the prevalence of mental illness and allowing us to speak about it openly and, most importantly, helping individuals receive the necessary treatment they require.  These two missions have been my ongoing campaign throughout my career, along with ensuring those who are suffering receive compassion and dignity. We need to talk about mental illness because when society is afraid to and wants to keep it locked away it is the individual that needs treatment who ends up needlessly suffering. I am honored to receive the Golden Bell Leadership Award from the Mental Health Association and look forward to many more years of working with them to end the stigma associated with mental illness and making sure those that need treatment receive it,” Governor Codey said.

Early in 2014, Governor Codey introduced two bills which had a huge positive impact on homeless people who are mentally ill. S-1888wGR/A-2938 (Codey, Allen/Jasey, Caputo, O'Donnell) requires emergency shelters for the homeless to admit persons with mental illness unless they pose danger. Prior to the signing of this Law, discrimination against people with mental illness who needed to use homeless shelters was legal. S-1889wGR/A-2937 (Codey, Stack/Jasey, Caputo, O'Donnell, Vainieri Huttle) prohibits emergency shelters for the homeless from refusing to provide services for minimum time frame unless shelters are at maximum capacity. The MHANJ’s Evening of Excellence June 18, 2014 marks the 15th Annual Evening of Excellence benefit for the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. In addition to Governor Codey, the other 2014 MHANJ Golden Bell Leadership Award recipients are Deborah Megaro, CEO, Capitol County Children’s Collaborative, Jefferson Township Councilwoman Debi Merz and Attitudes In Reverse®. To purchase tickets to the MHANJ’s Evening of Excellence or to become a sponsor, please contact Merrill Altberg at maltberg@mhanj.org or 973-571-4100, ext. 118. About the Mental Health Association in New Jersey Since 1948, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey has fulfilled its mission by responding to issues and concerns raised by consumers of mental health services. The Association works for changes and promotes policies that protect consumers’ rights and fights the stigma that surrounds mental illness and makes recovery difficult. The MHANJ advocates for systems change with elected and appointed government officials on the state, federal and local levels. Administrative, legal, budgetary and treatment issues that affect people with mental illness are all addressed. The organization also provides services that directly assist consumers in need, and thus reduces the strain on limited government resources. The MHANJ’s state headquarters is located in Verona, New Jersey; additional offices are located in Atlantic, Hudson, Ocean and Union Counties. For more information about the MHANJ, visit www.mhanj.org, call 973-571-4100 or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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