Mental Health Alert

Zito Trust to close

A campaign group which for 17 years called for more controls over violent psychiatric patients has closed, declaring its objectives have been met.

The Zito Trust was founded in 1992 by Jayne Zito after her husband, Jonathan, was stabbed to death on the London underground by Christopher Clunis who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia six months before.

The charity pushed for increased measures to protect the public from potentially violent patients.

It said a new mental health act which came into effect in October last year has met this and other objectives.

The 2007 Mental Health Act – which had been opposed by many other mental health groups – includes the introduction of community treatment orders. It means that hospital-sectioned mental health patients are obliged to conform to conditions, including taking medication, when discharged to live in the community.

The trust also welcomed that the new act includes giving a wider range of professions – such as psychologists and nurses – added responsibility for psychiatric patients.

The trust also stated said it was satisfied that the new law meant those diagnosed with personality disorder can now be treated under the NHS.

A Zito Trust statement read: “In spite of a significant amount of opposition to most of these reforms, all of them have now been incorporated into legislation, principally the Mental Health Act 2007.

“While it’s clear that one or two pieces of legislation will not bring about all the improvements needed on their own, we are confident they will drive new developments in the care of the severely mentally ill in the community, achieving a much-needed balance between the therapeutic treatment of the patient and the safety of the public.”

The killing by Clunis turned Jayne Zito into one of Britain’s best-known mental health campaigners.

Clunis, now 45, has been discharged from Rampton high-security hospital to a medium-secure unit.

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