Mental health campaigner Jo Roberts has published Jo’s Law: her plan to replace the Mental Health Act 1983.
In 2018 the UK Government commissioned an independent Review which considered how the present Mental Health Act can be improved. The Review published its report in December 2018 and the UK Government has promised to act on it.
However, while Jo welcomed the report, especially where it aims to remove some of the more oppressive aspects of compulsory treatment, she still didn’t believe that the Review really got to grips with the patient experience of the Act. So she decided to see whether other service users agreed with her.
“I’ve talked to over 100 service users and carers about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the Mental Health Act and I’ve been in touch with thousands more on social media and through Jo’s Blog which I have been publishing since early 2019,” said Jo.
“This inspired me to capture the voices and views of service users and carers in Wales: and now I think I can set out what is really needed to replace the Mental Health Act.”
In her Plan Jo calls for the following from a new law:
Redefine the role and purpose of the law
Provide reciprocal rights before compulsion is needed
Reform the process of compulsion
Provide reciprocal rights for those subject to compulsion
Reduce the use of compulsion
Differentiate crime and illness
Engage carers and families
“The Mental Health Act is one of the main causes of the stigma associated with mental health precisely because its sole focus is on coercion,” Jo comments.
“Fixing the law on mental health is a wider issue than just reforming the rules on who can be detained. It is about a fundamental shift away from coercion and towards respect and dignity.”
Jo’s Law is published by mental health charity Hafal which is supporting Jo with her campaign in order to promote discussion of mental health law in England and Wales.
Hafal Chair Mair Elliott said: “We’ve been really inspired by Jo’s campaign and the points she has raised and we look forward to exploring our own position in the light of Jo’s research in the coming year. Look out for more information at our forthcoming events and on our website and social media.”
Download Jo’s Law
Read an exclusive interview with Jo in the latest Mental Health Wales journal