Mambalikalathil Sarada Menon, the Institute of Mental Health's longest-serving head, died on Sunday in Chennai. She was 98 years old at the time.
Sarada Menon was born in Mangaluru and raised in Chennai. She studied psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bengaluru after graduating from Madras Medical College.
Also, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1992 for being the country's first female psychiatrist.
She said in an interview,“Families are more willing nowadays to meet a psychiatrist, attend mental health centers, and even take a mentally ill person to a function or an outing. nowadays. With better awareness, I am sure it will disappear”.
In 1984, she and psychiatrist R. Thara launched the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF India). It is a non-governmental organization in Chennai. It is for the rehabilitation of those suffering from Schizophrenia and also other mental diseases.
Dr. Sarada Menon: India's first woman psychiatrist
“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. Thara recalled.
Dr. Menon's student Lakshmi Vijayakumar, the creator of Sneha, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention, described her as a rare phenomenon. Dr. Menon had retired when she was a student but was still teaching psychiatric lectures, she recalled.
“If Tamil Nadu stands tall in psychiatry today it is only because of her. She has been an amazing teacher and her enthusiasm for learning new things is phenomenal. Even last month she said she wanted to learn about the latest research findings. She asked a friend of mine to organize a meeting and participated. If she had something to learn, she would go to anybody and learn. I am privileged to have been taught by her,” she said.
Asserting that the health of patients came first to Dr. Menon, who had a sharp clinical acumen, Dr. Lakshmi also added,“She could just talk to somebody for five minutes and diagnose. She was humble and down-to-earth. She was a clinician par excellence, an administrator par excellence. Persons like her are rare and very difficult to come across.”
Dr. Menon gave dignity to the mentally sick by raising awareness about the problem at a period when mental health issues were seldom acknowledged.
During her stay at IMH, Dr. Menon implemented several improvements. She then proposed the idea of professional social workers who would oversee patients and counsel their families. Dr. Menon's contributions to the field of mental illness have also aided in the improvement and shaping of many people's lives.
first woman psychiatrist Sarada Menon
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