A LEADING Gwent mental health campaigner has joined a growing number of health experts and Assembly Members in demanding a separate Mental Heath Act for Wales.

Jean James (pictured) spoke to the Argus yesterday as members visited London to lobby the government over their review of mental health laws.

The government has carried out a consultation over plans to change the Mental Health Act.

The proposed legislation would allow a health authority to impose compulsory treatment in the community on people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others due to mental illness.

Recently the National Assembly health committee proposed that a second Bill be drawn up for Wales and that the plans to force people to be treated were "unworkable".

The evidence presented to the committee from families, carers, health professionals and sufferers in Wales was almost exclusively opposed to the bill. Mrs James, of Oaklands, Ponthir, is founder of the Manic Depression Trust in Wales.

She said: "I entirely agree with moves to make sure Wales can have its own legislation. "Frankly this legislation is terrifying, Wales needs to go its own way and if we don't already have the power to create our own legislation then we should get it.

"It is the compulsion element of the law that is our biggest bugbear." Both the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Manic Depression Trust believe that forcing treatment on sufferers of mental illness will make people reluctant to seek help and will increase the stigma of mental illness.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health declined to comment.