Jo’s Blog: New Government, new action on reforming the Mental Health Act?

In early December 2019 I published Jo’s Law: my plan to replace the Mental Health Act 1983 which was based on conversations with over 100 service users and carers from across Wales – plus great feedback from you on social media in response to my Blog.

Since publishing Jo’s Law the political landscape has changed somewhat! We have a new Government which has promised to bring change to the UK – and they haven’t got any excuse for not addressing key issues because they have a big majority.

As you’ll remember – in 2018 the previous UK Government commissioned an Independent Review to look at how the Mental Health Act can be improved. The Review published its report in December 2018, and the Government promised to adopt some of its recommendations.

There was an undertaking to take forward reform of the Mental Health Act in the new Government’s Queen’s Speech on 19th December and there were other areas in the Government’s plans which are also relevant…

> The Government announced that a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission will be established – if “Rights” means the liberty of citizens then that sounds like an opportunity to challenge how the law is used to detain people with a mental illness in poor quality and demeaning environments.

> The Queen’s Speech also included a promise to establish a Royal Commission to review and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice process – that might offer an opportunity to raise the issue of how the law is used to punish people whose illness may be so severe that they cannot fairly be held responsible for their actions – instead of using the criterion of safety to detain humanely those who pose a serious risk.

We must engage with both these Commissions on behalf of people in Wales who are subject to the outdated Mental Health Act – as well as engaging with the legislation to revise the Act.

But we must not sit back and hope for the bestduring this year I will set out how you can join me in campaigning for change on the Mental Health Act!


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 and beyond a fairer deal. Read more…