Former New Jersey governor and current state Sen. Dick Codey (D-Livingston), and his wife Mary Jo, have officially kicked off the Codey Fund for Mental Health public campaign.

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The Codeys' announcement comes on the heels of the attack on Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds by his son earlier this week. Gus Deeds, who later took his own life, reportedly sought help for a mental health issue before stabbing his father, but no hospital bed was available for him.

For too long, the Codeys said, the problems of mental illness have been swept under the rug as people hoped they would just go away.

"We've got to find out how many mental health beds we have in the state of New Jersey, and then how many do we need," said Mr. Codey. "It looks like that young man would be alive today maybe if there were enough hospital beds for mentally ill people in the state of Virginia, and his father wouldn't be in bad shape in a hospital with stab wounds."

The fund will also help support groups and programs that focus on mental illness for at-risk children, mothers with post-partum depression, patients in state psychiatric hospitals, and the homeless.

"We're starting on our journey and we will be urging people throughout the state of New Jersey to stand up, to speak out and to get help," said Mr. Codey. "Our aim, obviously not in my lifetime, but hopefully in my children's, is to end the stigma associated with mental illness."

Mrs. Codey has been very public about her battle with post-partum depression, and as First Lady she helped launch a groundbreaking awareness campaign called, "Recognizing Post-Partum Depression: Speak Up When You're Down."

"We have to do something for those who have fallen or would fall into the black hole of mental illness," said Mrs. Codey. "It's terrifying and lonely, and unfortunately it can feel very shameful for those of us who are going through it."

According to the latest statistics, in the last year nearly 25 percent of Americans experienced a mental health disorder. More people in the U.S. suffer from depression than coronary heart disease or cancer, but only 30 percent of those with a diagnosable mental disorder seek treatment.