Letter: Need for co-operation on mental health

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was harrowing to read Jayne Zito's personal account of her feelings about her husband's death, following the attack on him by Christopher Clunis, a mental patient whose illness had been neglected ('The love I never should have lost', 17 December). One could only wish that it had not happened. Yet we have needed someone like Jayne Zito for a long time.

Violence towards others and themselves by patients whose psychotic conditions have been neglected is commonplace - and has been for years. Most incidents are not newsworthy enough to be reported and those that are have usually been dismissed as isolated cases and soon forgotten after a flash of publicity.

Patients, victims, families and the community at large do not see how anything can be done and mental health charities speaking on behalf of the mentally disordered are not pro-active in taking up cases. There is also disagreement between campaigners, particularly on the issue of civil liberties and the need for hospital beds for acutely and chronically ill mental patients. This results in conflicting messages both to the public and the Government about what is actually happening and what is needed.

The circumstances of her husband's death have turned Jayne Zito into a mental health campaigner. I sincerely hope that she will lead us in a vigorous and co- ordinated campaign and put an end to the destructive competitiveness between the mental health charities.

Yours faithfully,


Council of Management

National Schizophrenia


Addlestone, Surrey