OKLAHOMA – Monday was a major step in the fight to help those who are mentally ill.
Governor Mary Fallin signed ‘The Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Act’ into law.
“I think, today, Mark Costello has done something great for Oklahoma,” said Cathy Costello, his widow.
Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello was stabbed to death in a Braum’s parking lot in August of 2015.
His son, Christian Costello, who suffers from mental illness, is the accused killer.
“I think that my son, I call him the poster child for the AOT bill, because I know that he met the criteria of this bill, and he would have been put on medication,” Cathy said.
She said her son was hospitalized at least five times before killing his father.
With the new legislation, help will be easier to get.
Now, court orders can be handed down to require patients to take their medication.
“Most importantly, the consequence is, when someone doesn’t seek treatment, instead of going to jail, they are involved back in the mental health system, either through going to the community mental health center and receiving their medication or potentially ultimately ending back into the psychiatric hospital,” said Terri White with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Officers hope the law will also help curb the jail and prison population.
“Probably 50 percent of the people that we’re arresting are involved in some type of a mental illness,” said Sgt. Luke Sherman with Tulsa Police. “It allows us to begin to get what I call traction to begin to really help.”
Many, like the governor, said this is only the first of hopefully a number of changes.
“Hopefully, as our economy turns around, we’ll be able to do more for mental health services in our state,” Fallin said.
To be in the new outpatient treatment program, a patient must be 18 years old, under the care of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and pose a danger to themselves or others without supervision.