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The Department of Psychiatry had informal beginning in 1958, when Dr. Luvia Taylor Gregg, Honorary Consultant in Psychiatry, began formal teaching in psychiatry for the first batch of MBBS students. Dr Gregg planned to introduce 100 hours of teaching in psychiatry in MBBS curriculum. Prof KL Wig, the then Head, Department of Medicine (later Director, AIIMS) was instrumental in integrating teaching of psychiatry throughout the clinical posting in medicine, so that the exposure to psychiatry was spread to all the 3 years on weekly basis. DrVimlaVirmani, who later headed the Department of Neurology, also worked as clinical tutor in the initial years of the Department history.
Dr AS Mahal joined as Assistant Professor in 1962 and Dr D Satyanand as Professor and Head in Aug 1963. Regular MD Psychiatry programme in psychiatry, the first in the country was started in 1964 by DrSatyanand. During 1967-1968, Dr Erna Hoch, a Swiss psychiatrist, who had migrated to India, headed the Department as Honorary Professor and Head for about one and half year. She was followed by Dr JS Neki, who joined in Sept 1968 as Professor and Head.
The Department of Psychiatry had a number of firsts in India besides being a pioneer in establishing postgraduate training in psychiatry in general hospital setting. The department gave a stature to psychiatry as medical discipline in a medical institution in India. Another path braking contribution of the department of psychiatry was initiating rural mental health services, through the Indian Council of Medical Research funded mental health project at the Ballabgarh Community Centre in 1964. The department has also the credit of starting the first Child Guidance Clinic in Delhi in 1964 and De Addiction Centre in 1988 which got the status of the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) in 1988. NDDTC is also a WHO Collaborating Centre on Substance Abuse.
The Department of Psychiatry has been a pioneer in providing mental health services in a General Hospital Setting. The department runs regular out-patient and in-patient services and multiple Specialty clinics along with Community services, Consultation liaison services and Emergency psychiatric services. In addition to medical management, psychological treatments, modified electro convulsive therapy (MECT), rTMS, tDCS and biofeedback are routinely provided. During the year 2017-18, the department provided out-patient consultation services to a total of 17,204 new cases and 66,333 follow up cases. The department is at the forefront of medical education with courses for MBBS, B.Sc/M.Sc nursing, MD (Psychiatry) and PhD (Clinical Psychology). The department undertakes regular collaborative research with national and international agencies like World Health Organization (WHO), University of California, National Institute of Health Research (UK), ICMR, and organizes year round public educational events for awareness and promotion of mental health.
Currently primary mandate of the department is to develop highly trained manpower, curriculum and techniques for undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Funded research on epidemiology of substance abuse along with general mental health morbidity has been the main focus. The postgraduates are trained through outpatient, inpatient, community based and family centred mental health care.