New home for adults with mental illness to be named after slain police officer

A housing unit for adults with mental illness set to open in Fredericton in the new year will be named after one of the police officers killed in a shooting last year.

Costello House will be run by the non-profit New Brunswick Community Residences and is named after Const. Robb Costello, one of the officers who responded to a shooting at a Brookside Drive apartment complex on Aug. 10, 2018.

He died that day along with Const. Sarah Burns and two civilians, Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright.

Costello’s partner, Jackie McLean, chairs the board of the non-profit and said that while Costello deserves the honour, he would probably feel self-conscious receiving it.

“I feel that while we don’t know exactly why this tragedy occurred, I feel like it’s highly likely that there is a mental health component involved.” (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC)

“He would say he didn’t deserve the attention, that, you know, name it after somebody who is more important than he is,” McLean said. 

“I don’t think that he knew how important he was to so many people and the community.”

‘A lovely environment’

Costello House will have six beds and be for people recently released from the hospital.

Stephanie Brewer, the executive director of New Brunswick Community Residences, said the home will be on the north side of the city and cater to adults with a variety of mental illnesses.

“It could be any type of mental health, mental illness or emotional difficulties that somebody might be experiencing,” said Brewer. 

“A lot of our clients may be suffering from schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, depression and the list goes on.”

McLean said the home, which will be one of four owned by the non-profit in the city, will have a “homey” vibe.

She said this is important to people entering the home from an institution like a hospital.

“The most important thing for us is that these people have a home, not an institution or not something that’s clinical and cold,” said McLean.

Stephanie Brewer is the executive director of New Brunswick Community Residences. She said the new home on the north side for adults struggling with mental illnesses will have a “homey” vibe. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

“It’s a really lovely environment and we’re really proud of how it’s turned out.”

Brewer said the building still needs a few things to make it feel like a home, and she’s hoping for donations from the community.

“We need bedroom furnishings for six bedrooms, living-room furnishings for two living areas, kitchen equipment,” said Brewer.

Costello House said the facility will be located on the north side of the city and will cater to adults with a variety of mental illnesses. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

“Just anything you would need in your own home basically”

Mental illness still a stigma

McLean said Costello always supported her work in the organization and was always involved with the Fredericton community at large.

“He knew the value of what New Brunswick Community Residences offer,” said McLean.

“For these individuals to have the stability of a home and those supports meant that Rob wouldn’t have to necessarily deal with them through his work professionally, because a lot of their needs were already met.”

McLean said she thinks society has a long way to go in how it treats people with mental illnesses.

She said that after her partner died, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

Costello House will have six beds for people recently released from the hospital. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

“There is stigma attached to that,” said McLean.

“A lot of people don’t understand it and mental illness is not a choice and because it’s an invisible condition people assume that you’re OK.”

A tragedy that ‘could have been avoided’

McLean said the ultimate goal is to open another three facilities over the next decade and have them named after the other three victims of the shootings.

While she doesn’t want to make a direct connection, she believes mental health played a role in the death of her partner.

“I feel that while we don’t know exactly why this tragedy occurred, I feel like it’s highly likely that there is a mental health component involved,” said McLean.

“I like to believe that had this individual received community support for mental illness, that maybe the tragedies could have been avoided.”