Tamil Nadu

India’s first woman psychiatrist, Sarada Menon, passes away at 98

Sarada Menon.   | Photo Credit: Subajayanthi Wilson

Sarada Menon, the longest-serving head of the Institute of Mental Health, died in Chennai on Sunday. She was 98.

Born in Mangaluru, she had her education in Chennai. She was a graduate of the Madras Medical College and did her psychiatry training at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bengaluru.

She is the country's first woman psychiatrist and was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1992. She founded the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF India) in 1984 along with psychiatrist R. Thara. “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.

Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder of Sneha, an organisation that works towards suicide prevention and a student of Dr. Menon, described her as a rare phenomenon. She recalled that when she was a student, Dr. Menon had retired but was taking classes for students in psychiatry.


“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 organise 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.

Stating that the welfare of patients came first to Dr. Menon, who had a keen clinical acumen, Dr. Lakshmi 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.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:39:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/indias-first-woman-psychiatrist-sarada-menon-passes-away-at-98/article37859342.ece

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