Published: 06th December 2021
#RestInPeace: Dr Sarada Menon, India's first female psychiatrist, dies at 98
A Padma Bhushan awardee, she was also the founder of SCARF (Schizophrenia Research and Care Foundation), a WHO-recognised organisation for the rehabilitation of the mentally ill
It was a time when people frowned upon women who chose to study a stream of Medicine that wasn't Gynaecology or Paediatrics. However, Dr Sarada Menon chose to defy the norm and study Psychiatry at the All India Institute of Mental Health (now called NIMHANS) in Bengaluru, to become the first woman psychiatrist in India. Living a 98-year-long life, working to uplift the conditions of the mentally ill in the country, Dr Menon passed away at her home in Chennai on December 5.
A Padma Bhushan awardee, she was also the founder of SCARF (Schizophrenia Research and Care Foundation), a WHO-recognised organisation for the rehabilitation of the mentally ill. Upon the completion of her course, Dr Menon was deputed by the government to the Institute of Mental Health in Chennai, where she worked for 18 years.
While talking to EdexLive four years ago, Dr Menon said that she went to her clinic regularly, even at the age of 94. She also spoke about why she decided to be a psychiatrist in the 1950s. "There was no treatment for mental illness. The condition of the patients was deplorable. They wouldn't eat or listen to others. And there were no drugs," she said, adding, "A psychiatrist's job is to make sure that the person affected can live their life normally again. If the patient is a homemaker, she must be able to go back and take care of her home and family." She also said that that was the reason behind her starting SCARF.
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Mourning her death, the SCARF tweeted, "A most fulfilling life devoted to mental health (Dr Menon was) an ardent administrator, an astute clinician and above all a very caring human being."