Mental Health Advancement in The Twentieth Century
Awareness Education

Mental Health Advancement in The Twentieth Century

A man busy in deep thinking

Mental health as a state of well-being, encompasses the realization of our abilities to deal with the stressors of life, to work productively and to contribute effectively to our community and the society. India, on its journey to accept and spread mental health awareness, has witnessed improvements overall in the position the field of mental health holds now. We now are growing strong in our notions to identify with mental health; the associated conditions/issues/disorders. We now envision the significance of mental health and awareness regarding related concerns. But we still got a long way to go.

The journey has been tough. The historical prelude of mental health illuminates the struggle the field has gone through in India to gain the recognition it deserves. The time line of the expansion of mental health field has been rigorous and gripping as to how India has wrought to spread mental health awareness and make the living of the people worthwhile.


Derived from the English Lunacy Act, 1890, Indian Lunacy Act, 1912 (Act No. IV of 1912) was evolved.


Under the leadership and guidance of Dr. N.N Sengupta at Calcutta University, the first psychology department and the first psychology laboratory in India were established. (Dalal A. K & Misra A., 2010).


CIP (initially named Ranchi European Lunatic Asylum) was established by the British on 17th May 1918. CIP was the first institute to introduce the country’s first Occupational Therapy Department in 1922, ECT in 1943, Psychosurgery and Neurosurgery in 1947, Clinical Psychology and Electroencephalography (EEG) departments in 1948, a full-fledged Neuropathology section in 1952, the very first use of Lithium in 1952 and Chlorpromazine in 1953.  The first draft of the Bill that subsequently came to existence as the Mental Health Act of India (1987) was written at CIP, Ranchi in 1949 by Dr R.B. Davis (then Medical Superintendent), Dr S.A. Hasib (from Indian Mental Hospital, Ranchi) and Dr J. Roy (from Mental Hospital, Gwalior).


Succeeding Dr. N.N Sengupta, Dr. Girindra Sekhar Bose at Calcutta University, established the Indian Psychoanalytical Society with the intimate contact and support of Sigmund Freud.

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Sengupta took efforts as a leading proponent of psychological research to include psychology as one distinct division of the Indian Science Congress.


Headed by M. V Gopalaswamy, the second oldest department of psychology established at the University of Mysore.


Indian Psychological Association was founded and established by the constant effort of S.N Gupta (Jain, 2005).


The Indian Journal of Psychology was founded by N.N Sengupta and he was the first official founding editor. (Jain, 2005).


N.N Sengupta, along with Radhakamal Mukerjee published instructions and the first text to social psychology in India.


Emerging from the department of philosophy, the department of psychology evolved as a separate department at University of Madras. The founder-head of the department was Dr. G.D Boaz.

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H.P Maiti headed the psychology department instituted in Patna.


Girindra Sekhar Bose published the journal Samiksha.


Working with the aim of including psychologists on research and selection boards, psychological research wing was established by India Government Defence Ministry (Jain, 2005).


Erikson and McClelland collaborated to develop advanced training programs in clinical psychology, and they subsequently introduced them at the All India Institute of Mental Health (now known as NIMHANS) in Bangalore, as stated by Jain (2005).


The department of psychiatry at AIIMS began informally, when Dr Luvia Taylor Gregg (Honorary consultant in Psychiatry), began teaching to the first batch of MBBS students. Dr Satyanand (professor and head, August 1963) started regular MD psychiatry programme in psychiatry, the first in the country.

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University of Mumbai came up with the department of applied psychology. The four streams of study included in applied psychology were clinical, counselling, industrial and social.


University of Allahabad, the 4th oldest University in India, established the department of psychology. Prof. Durganand Sinha (trained at Cambridge University and Patna University) was the first head of the department (Adrian C.B & Johann L & William Van H., 2004).


The department of psychology at Delhi University was established as an independent department under the headship of Prof. H.C. Ganguli.


The Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists was started (Jain, 2005). On 12 December 1968, Indian Council of Social Science was established to provide valuable help to scholars from all over country through fellowships and project grants.

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On December 27, 1974, the Government of Mysore established the Mental Hospital and the Government of India established the All India Institute of Mental Health, amalgamating them together. The formation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) emerged and came into existence. They also launched the Community Psychiatry Unit (community mental health unit) in the same year.


Mental health Act passed on 22 May 1987 and came into force in 1993, which discussed the treatment and care in mental hospitals in India. The Mental Health Act, 1987 superseded and replaced the existing Indian Lunacy Act, 1912.


In compliance with the directives of the honorable Supreme Court, the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) was established in 1993 in response to a public interest litigation.

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Indian School Psychology Association came to existence in 2009 to promote school psychology in India and Abroad by the leadership and guidance of Prof. B. Mukhopadhyay.


The Indian government passed the Mental Health care Act on April 7, 2017, and it came into force on July 7, 2018, replacing the earlier existing Mental Health Act of 1987.

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