The Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) was established as per the G.O (MS) No.299/82/HD dt.4.12.82, registered (Reg.No.157/1983) as a society under the Madras Registration Act XXI of 1860 on 8.6.83 and started functioning in the Govt. Mental Health Centre Campus, Kozhikode, in the year 1984-85. The institute continued to function in the GMHC till 2015 when it was shifted to the new building in the Govt. Medical College campus, Kozhikode.
The aim was to develop into a centre of excellence in mental health in the area of treatment, teaching and research with its campus in the Govt. Medical College, Kozhikode. The institute functioned as a unit of the Govt. Mental Health Centre (GMHC) at Kozhikode from a small, temporarily allotted building with minimum resources and limited staffing. In addition to the weekly outpatient clinic at the GMHC and inpatient unit, the institute organised monthly community mental health clinics at Meppadi and Thariyode in Wayanad district from 1984 onwards. Community mental health clinics were started at Perambra and Balusseri in Kozhikode district and Edavanna in Malappuram district.
The institute also organised rehabilitation services in the GMHC through the rehabilitation centre, which started in 1989.
The year 2007 marked a change in the functioning of the institute, with its focus shifting to community psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and rehabilitation services with the aim of effective utilization of the available resources and manpower. Community psychiatry was taken up in a big way with the starting of community-based mental health services extensively in the four northern districts of Kerala with financial support from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the District Mental Health Program (DMHP) of National Mental Health Program (NMHP). Stress was also given to improving the rehabilitation activities in the four northern districts with support from local self Govt. bodies and community-based initiatives. Despite financial and resource constraints, we continued to the organize community mental health program till 31st March 2017, when it was taken over by the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and extended to all the fourteen districts of Kerala with annual budget allocation.
The Child Development Services (CDS) was started as the child and adolescent mental health division of IMHANS in 2007. Initially, it was a weekly outpatient clinic for children with developmental and psychological disorders, which functioned as an extension of the Child Guidance Clinic at the Department of Pediatrics at the Institute of Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Govt. Medical College, Kozhikode. The clinic functioned from the old RCH building in the Govt. Medical College campus remained unused after winding up the urban RCH program. From 2008 onwards the CDS was expanded with the services of a multidisciplinary team comprising of clinical psychologists, speech therapist, early intervention therapists and special educators with fund from the NRHM. Back then, the CDS was the only centre in the erstwhile Malabar area to provide comprehensive care to children with developmental and psychological disorders through a multidisciplinary team.
Outreach clinics of the CDS were started in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kasargode and Kannur districts in 2011 as multidisciplinary mobile intervention units as part of the Community Developmental Disability Project (CDDP). Around 40000 children had utilized the services of the CDS by the time it celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017.
The new building of the rehabilitation centre in the GMHC campus was opened by Smt. KK. Shailaja Teacher, honorable minister for Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Kerala on 4th November 2017. The rehabilitation centre, which had a modest beginning, has developed into a self reliant centre over the years, providing livelihood to more than 100 persons with chronic mental illnesses.
Apart from that of the director, the only created post at IMHANS was the post of the supervisor of the rehabilitation centre and as a result there were no permanent clinical or administrative staff at IMHANS till 2011. The staff included one psychiatrist, medical officer, clerk, driver and attender were working on a provisional or contract basis. The post of administrative officer and faculty posts were created in 2011, the posts of an accountant, computer operator, peon and sweeper in 2012 and additional clinical, technical and faculty posts were created in 2016 to support the centre of excellence project.
The community mental health programs and the child development services were well appreciated by the common man and helped to gain immense public support for the institute. As recognition of the community projects, IMHANS was selected by the Govt. of India to develop into a centre of excellence in mental health in the 11th plan. The institute was included among the 11 centres selected from all over India. An amount of Rs. 30 crores was sanctioned as one-time central assistance as part of the National Mental Health Program for manpower development. The new campus in the Govt. Medical College campus was established utilizing the central assistance.
IMHANS achieved a major milestone in its history when the new building was constructed as part of the centre of excellence project, which was inaugurated by Sri. Oommen Chandy, honourable Chief Minister, in the presence of ministers, legislative assembly members, Kozhikode MP, Mayor and other dignitaries. The four-storied building now houses child development services, adult psychiatry outpatient clinics, a neurosciences laboratory, a library, classrooms, seminar halls, an administrative wing office complex and various projects. IMHANS is now a recognized postgraduate teaching centre affiliated to the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS). The institute now conducts M Phil programs in Psychiatric Social Work , Clinical Psychology and post-basic diploma in psychiatric nursing. M. Phil Psychiatric Social Work was started in 2014 and M Phil Clinical Psychology in 2017, with intake of 8 students each. The post-basic diploma in psychiatric nursing was commenced in 2014 with an intake of 10 students. All these courses are for the first time in the Govt. sector in Kerala.