The department of Psychiatry was started in 1962 when AIIMS was founded through special act of parliament. The department of Psychiatry is pioneer in establishing postgraduate training in Psychiatry in General Hospital setting in India and established psychiatry as just another medical specialty. Another path braking contribution of the department of psychiatry was attempt to develop rural mental health services, through the Indian council of Medical research funded mental health project at the Ballabgarh Community Centre during 1964.The another first achieved by the department of psychiatry included the First Child Guidance Clinic in Delhi started in 1964 and De Addiction Centre in 1976 which became National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre attached with AIIMS.
Currently primary mandate of the department is to develop highly trained manpower, curriculum and techniques for undergraduate and
postgraduate medical education. Funded research on epidemiology of substance abuse along with general mental health morbidity has been the main focus. The postgraduates are trained through outpatient, inpatient, community based and family centred mental health care.