Brilliant clinician who was appointed professor of psychiatry of learning disability at St George’s, University of London

In 1980, Joan Bicknell, who has died aged 78 of cancer, was appointed professor of psychiatry of learning disability – the first British female professor of psychiatry – at what is now St George’s, University of London. A brilliant clinician, she put the disabled person and their family at the centre of each consultation.

She was in constant demand to speak to trainees, parent groups and learning disability services about her vision of what could be done, and published dozens of papers for both clinicians and families. An article drawn from her inaugural lecture as a professor in 1981, The Psychopathology of Handicap, was published in the journal Psychological Medicine, and remains inspirational today.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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