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Sarada Menon, the First Woman Psychiatrist of India, Passes Away at 98

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Mind It
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Sarada Menon, the First Woman Psychiatrist of India, Passes Away at 98

Sarada Menon, head of the Institute of Mental Health, and pioneer in India's mental health space, died on Sunday at the age of 98, in Chennai.

She is the first woman psychiatrist of our country. Sarada Menon was also honoured with Padma Bhushan in the year 1992. She was the longest-serving head of the Institute of Mental Health.

Sarada Menon’s Education and Work

Sarada Menon was born in Mangaluru and she completed her education in Chennai. She finished her graduation at the Madras Medical College.

She completed her psychiatry training at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bengaluru.

Sarada Menon set up the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF India) in 1984 along with psychiatrist R. Thara with the aim of providing rehabilitation for those suffering from the disorder and other mental health issues.

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“Her death has left a huge void in our lives. I have known her since 1978 and worked with her for 35 years. A great role model and inspiration to all of us. So human at many levels. Until three months ago, she was talking about her passion, the rehabilitation of the mentally ill."
Dr R. Thara, Psychiatrist, Director of Schizophrenia Research Foundation, as quoted in The Hindu.

Dr Menon joined the Institute of Mental Health in Kilpauk in 1959 and soon became its first woman Superintendent by 1961. It was under her leadership that that department of psychiatry was set up. The institute also set up out-patient clinics and regional psychiatry centers. Through her career, she also helped set up several social organisations to help rehabilitate those suffering from mental illnesses.

Dr Menon's contributions to the space of mental illness and rehabilitation have helped 1000s of patients and shaped the careers of several psychiatrists who followed in her footsteps.

(Written with inputs from The Hindu.)

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