The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) is a multidisciplinary institute for patient care and academic pursuit in the field of mental health and neurosciences.
NIMHANS is synonymous with providing high standards of clinical care, quality training and cutting-edge research in the frontier areas. Combined priorities for comprehensive patient care, manpower development and research, stem from the commitment to an integrated and multidisciplinary approach which addresses societal needs. The advances in genomics, computational neuroscience, mathematical modelling, neuroimaging, molecular biology and a host of new disciplines including public health, are being translated to help humanity in need and promote the growth of knowledge.
A special feature of this Institute since its inception is the combination of research and training with promotive, preventive and curative aspects of clinical services in Mental Health and Neurosciences.
The manpower development programmes at NIMHANS reflect the strides in fusing together and nurturing behavioural sciences, neurosciences, basic biological sciences and ancient health systems.
The Institute provides inputs to the Central and State Governments in areas including the establishment of new psychiatric facilities, improvement of existing facilities and strategizing a national programme for mental health.
The Institute has emerged as the nodal centre for evolving national policies in the field of mental health, neurosciences and injury. This exemplifies a unique model of successful partnership between the Union and State Governments (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare),
NIMHANS has made significant progress and is a centre for excellence in mental health and neuroscience in the country. NIMHANS has produced more than 1,000 Psychiatrists, about 600 Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatric Nurses so far—who are working in both national and international contexts. .
The Central Government recognized its eminent academic position, growth and contributions, and declared it a ‘Deemed University’ in 1994. In 2012, NIMHANS was conferred the status of an ‘Institute of National Importance’.
A Brief History
The history of the mental health care system in Karnataka dates back to the colonial times. In the18th century, the legendary warrior Tipu Sultan was killed by the British and power was handed back to the Wodeyar clan. A British army regiment was stationed in Bangalore, which was then part of the princely state of Mysore. During the period, especially from 1831-1881, under the administration of British Commissioner Sir Mark Cubbon, the region witnessed a lot of developments in the healthcare system. Western medicine was introduced and hospitals/dispensaries were opened for the care of British infantry, Indian soldiers and civilians.
The Bangalore Lunatic Asylum was founded in 1847. Dr. Charles Irwing Smith, a British medical practitioner in Bangalore, played a pivotal role in the establishment of the asylum. The simple yet airy structured asylum with 50 beds was located at Pete or Pettah , Dharmambudi tank area (the present State Bank of Mysore head office building at the intersection of Kempegowda Road and Avenue Road, Bangalore).
At the asylum, the mentally-ill were allowed to move freely on the premises and were provided with opportunities to take part in activities like rope-making, gardening, cleaning, and other domestic works. In the ensuing years, doctors from Indian Medical Service were appointed and the number of patients at the asylum began to rise. By 1914, about 100 patients were admitted and discharged, on an average, every year.
In 1925, the asylum was rechristened Mental Hospital signifying a paradigm shift in management of mental problems. The old asylum / mental hospital on Avenue Road was closed in 1936-37, and the staff and patients moved to the new site Lakkasandra, the second highest hillock in Bangalore.
More than 100 acres of land was donated by the Maharaja of Mysore to establish the Mental Hospital. Dr. Frank Xavier Noronha became the first superintendent of the Mental Hospital. At this time (in 1936), Sir Mirza Ismail held the coveted position of the Dewan of Mysore. This period was billed as the golden age of Mysore. Both Sir Ismail and Dr. Noronha were keen gardeners and avid horticulturists. Their common passion for well-designed public spaces led to the formation of a new structure for the Mental Hospital encompassing vibrant gardens replete with lush landscapes and open spaces. The duo personally planted many of the exotic tree species that can still be seen on the campus.
The new building itself was loosely based on the plans of the Institute of Psychiatry building, which was then housed at the Bethlem hospital site in Moorfields (United Kingdom). It was constructed by the civil engineering firm, the Mysore Engineering Company (MEC), which was staffed entirely by Indian engineers. It was considered essential that the spaces in an asylum provide an environment conducive for recovery, and this principle lay at the root of asylum design, where “where one could be both mad and safe”.
This careful consideration to a healing environment contrasted sharply with other asylums in India, which were often hand-me-downs from jails or barracks. This building, and the Hospital for Europeans and Indians in Ranchi, were the only two custom-built asylums in British India in the early 20th century, and were designed with the explicit purpose of providing a healing environment, and with all the necessary modern attributes.
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