Dr Helen Boyle, our first woman President

180th Anniversary Webinar

Thursday 27 May 2021

This webinar took place on Thursday 27 May 2021.


Dr Helen Boyle (1869–1957), the first woman president of this College, gave her presidential address on 12 July 1939 and it was published in The Journal of Mental Science, September 1939. Dr Boyle worked with patients with the ‘early signs of nervous disorder’ and her primary objective was to avoid certification and asylum admission.

From 1904 Dr Boyle travelled to Glasgow, Germany, France and Austria to explore the voluntary admission systems and clinics for mental health care. In 1910 she travelled to Munich to meet Emile Kraepelin and in 1913 she met Adolf Meyer in the USA. In 1920 she was invited to the USA and Canada to speak about her work and explore developments in psychological medicine.

Dr Boyle was a vigorous proponent of non-asylum treatment with outpatient facilities, which was the antithesis of the care generally available in England at the time because of the strict lunacy laws.  

Many of Helen Boyle’s ideas and principles are still valued in today’s community care, perinatal psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent MH Services. 

Boyle wrote that her presidential address caused her ‘considerable anxiety’ and my webinar will explore her work and identify the reasons why this presidency was not only a surprise but also a source of anxiety.


This 180th Anniversary webinar will be chaired by Dr Gianetta Rands and will include a presentation and Q&A with Dr Louise Westwood.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry