Jo’s Blog: More humane and cost-effective – it’s a win-win for user and carer rights!

A big thank you to all the service-users and carers who discussed my plan for Jo’s Law at the Hafal Members’ Days in Baglan and Prestatyn in the last few weeks!

There was real enthusiasm for Jo’s Law plus some detailed feedback which will be really valuable.

Two major issues raised were:

  • People need more support before they reach crisis – and it should be easy to access, especially via the GP; and there is a need for more early intervention services
  • Carers and families need to be more involved and listened to when people are in crisis and when they are detained under the Act

I agree: these issues show the need to build new rights into the law which balance the use of compulsion.

Now that’s not just a question of fairness – it also makes good practical sense because giving users and carers new rights can ensure better support which prevents people getting to the point where compulsion is needed – which is more humane as well as cost-effective.

A reminder of the key areas where I am looking for reform…

  • Clarify the purpose of compulsion:  it should be about keeping people safe – no more, no less
  • Give patients rights to care and treatment before compulsion is needed
  • Give patients rights to respect, privacy, and choice when they are detained against their will
  • Involve families and carers from the start where patients want this
  • Set legal targets to reduce the use of compulsion
  • Reform the criminal law in respect of those with mental illness so that safety is the focus instead of blame and punishment

I am aiming to publish Jo’s Law – my plan to replace the Mental Health Act 1983 in December so if you want to comment please do contact me at


Jo Roberts is a mental health campaigner who has been on the receiving end of the Mental Health Act – and is still subject to it today. In the past she has received compulsory treatment; some of that treatment was deeply unpleasant and even terrifying. Jo is campaigning for a progressive Mental Health Act fit for the 21st Century – an Act that gives patients and carers in Wales a fairer deal. Read more…