The beginning for the MPA was an arduous and challenging journey. It started off with the first meeting called by Dr. M P Deva of the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Malaya, to discuss the formation of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association in November 1976. It was a strenuous time for the psychiatry fraternity in Malaysia, with about a dozen psychiatrists out of 25 – leaving or planning to leave for greener pastures down under. The psychiatric hospitals were overflowing with well over 8000 patients in disastrous conditions which would have been unimaginable today.
The two-year Masters in Psychological Medicine program of University of Malaya which started in 1973, produced its second batch of: a single psychiatrist while facing a bleak drought of new trainees. Perhaps, the greatest threat for the formation of MPA came from among a few in the same profession and many in the other specialties who felt that: the concept of MPA was not a wise one, as there was already a Neuro-psychiatric society of the Malaysian Medical Association.
Fortunately, the majority of the psychiatrists prevailed and the MPA was formally inaugurated by the Honorable Minister of Health Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew on 19th March 1977 at Hospital Bahagia, Ulu Kinta. Dato Seri M. Mahadevan was elected as the MPA’s First pro tempore President with Dr. M P Deva as pro tempore Hon Gen Secretary. The election was followed by a scientific session on: The Move to Community Psychiatry in Malaysia.
Activities of the MPA
The initial years saw the first monthly Scientific/Clinical meetings first held at the Nurses Lecture theatre of, GHKL and later held in UHKL, UKM and GHKL on rotation. It became more regular after 1981 until the introduction of the Quarterly Scientific meetings. This was initiated by Prof Ramli Hassan in 1993 and the 1st QSM was on Child Psychiatry held on 20/2/93 at the Institute of Paediatrics KL attended by 48 participants. This became a regular meeting discussing various topics of interest in psychiatry and Mental Health and held mainly in KL. On the 23rd Nov. 1996 the first QSM was held outside KL in Johor Bahru on care of the Elderly and the next one in February 1997 at GH Kota Bharu on Community Mental Health.