Dr Anula Nikapota – R.I.P.

Martin Pratt
CEO of The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Posted on

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you Dr Anula Nikapota died on 4 April, suddenly while on holiday with her family. We are very shocked by her sudden death. Many of us will remember Anula for her many accomplishments for ACAMH on top of her great expertise clinically and educationally. We are very shocked by her sudden death. Her attainments on top of running a very busy general CAMHS clinic in Brixton were many and varied, and she continued them after retiring from the NHS.

Dr. Anula Nikapota
Dr. Anula Nikapota

She was active on the board of ACAMH and indeed had been active until the day she died. She was our international officer and was particularly committed to helping develop staff and services in low and middle income countries. For example, she was active in making links and promoting connections in Egypt, Cambodia, and Bangladesh. She saw through ACAMH granting free memberships for the lowest income countries, thus extending the reach of the organisation and sharing its resources widely and generously. At the time of her death she was energetically planning with Martin, our CEO, how to develop further branches and partnerships overseas.

She was modern in her outlook, fully embracing the new technology and opportunities that the Internet offers. With Eric Taylor, she was at an advanced stage in developing an online module, the first in-house one for ACAMH, on research methods so that colleagues in developing countries could carry out their own investigations and evaluations, as well as getting Continuing Professional Development credit for this. She was part of the team that delivered around the country the CAMHS Transformation Clinical Champions project in conjunction with YoungMinds and MindEd, a package of online resources that clinicians could use to increase access to evidence-based services.

She was a superb clinician – wise, knowledgeable and with an unerring ability to engage children and families from diverse backgrounds.  She pioneered many novel strategies to extend and improve the working relationships between child mental health services and the wider community, including schools, social care and the voluntary sector.  Anula was internationally known for her expertise on how cultural diversity may influence the presentation of mental health problems and attitudes to different interventions.

With the support of Professors Michael Rutter and Eric Taylor, Anula developed and ran the excellent Diploma/MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.  This provides specialist education and training in child and adolescent mental health for overseas clinicians, including psychologists, psychiatrists and paediatricians. One of its unusual features is the direct clinical experience that students get in working clinics. Under Anula’s leadership, the course attracted distinguished clinicians from over 50 countries, and for its 30th anniversary in 2018  many of Anula’s previous students returned to London for the celebration.

Anula was always lively and fun with a sparkling sense of humour. She had a loving husband and family and was an extremely talented musician. She was a wonderful colleague and she will be greatly missed.

If you would like to share your comments and memories about Anula you can in the section below.


Professor Stephen Scott, Professor Eric Taylor, and Martin Pratt


Deeply saddened to hear this news . Condolences to her family and friends. Her work and dedication will be remembered .

I am also saddened and shocked to hear this – I benefitted a huge amount from Anula’s wisdom when I was a senior registrar in Brixton in the mid 1990’s as well as many times since. She made a huge contribution and will be hugely missed. My thoughts are with her family at this time

Sincerest sympathies to the family. Your loss is unimaginable as is the loss to the world of CAMHS.

This is such a sad news, I met Anula during my higher specialist CAMHS training. Her teachings in CAMHS transcultural psychiatry made a mark in my training. My thoughts are with her family at this difficult time. She will be surely missed. RIP Anula

Very saddened to hear of this very distressing news. A truly outstanding colleague and friend to all in the child and adolescent mental health professions and services. My condolences to her family and friends.

Sad news indeed; I saw Dr Nikapota only recently, but first met her in Barking and Dagenham in 1989 when she patiently and very kindly answered my questions during a training placement with the EP team there.

I am shocked to hear this sad news. Anula will be greatly missed for her dedication to the profession and her humane approach. She has inspired and mentored many pupils from across the world. I am one of the luckiest to remain in touch until last month and benefit from her experience and wisdom. My sincere condolences to her loving family at this difficult time. RIP Anula.

May her soul rest in peace. I appreciate her through her son and daughter in law who are two lovely people always empathetic , thoughtful and helpful.
Reading all the other comments show what an amazing individual we have lost. At least her positive legacy lives on.
Our thoughts are with her family.

I’m very sad to hear this sad news today and would like to pass my sincere and heartfelt condolences on to Anula’s family. Anula was a wise and inspiring consultant when I was a specialist registrar in Brixton in the early 2000s. She had great talent for working with families from all backgrounds and cultures and immense energy for so many projects and endeavours, all of which she saw through with her blend of tenacity and humour. We remained in touch and she was always incredibly supportive and kind.

It is great loss to international child psychiatry, having lost one of the champions for building the bridge between the places that has the most number of children live (and paradoxically has least number of trained child mental health professionals) and UK.
Anula could carry herself with equal finesse in the IOP and rural Asia and be liked at both places. We will miss you.

Sad news. A great loss to Child Psychiatry. I had done MSc CAMH course when she was at the helm and found her to be a knowledgeable,down to earth, genuine person who always kept the child in her alive. Will miss you, Dr Anula

So sad to hear this news today. She had the rare characteristics of combining humility and humanity with world leading expertise.

I am deeply saddened by the news of Anula’s sudden death. It is difficult to come to terms with it. She was a great clinician with lots of energy, ideas and sincere interest in promoting child and adolescent mental health in developing countries but also in deprived areas of “developed” countries. I met Anula during my training at the Maudsley and after returning back to Greece I continued to have contact with her. I will never forget her warm smile and enthusiasm. She will be truly missed and will always be remembered by those who knew her. My heartfelt condolences to her family!

This is a sad and shocked news. It was my honor to benefit from Dr Anula Nikapota when I was training in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry between 1998 and 2000. She had a great role in transferring modern child and adolescent psychiatry to different countries. It is a great loss to world child mental health.

I am so shocked and saddened to hear of Anula’s passing. She was a kind person with a warm nature whose passion for CAMHS was obvious, my condolences to her family at this sad time.

My words can’t fully express the sorrow after heard this great loss. With Deepest sympathy, I will keeping her in my thoughts and prayers.

My deepest condolence to her family. The course she initiated is superb and what she contributed to CAMH in LAMICs was countless.
We will miss you, Dr.Anula.

Anula’s death shocks and grieves me keenly. I was eagerly awaiting her imminent visit to Sri Lanka where she continued to do such important work. My oldest, very close friend, since our teens in the 50s, when I first came to Sri Lanka from England, we have shared hopes and fears for this suffering country for so long. Some of my sweetest, early memories are of her playing the piano while we sang “to the hills” on the beautiful Peradeniya university campus. I cannot believe that she is gone.

I am so sorry to hear that. May her soul rest in peace.

Deeply saddened to hear this news. She spent a lot of her valuable times and expertise to develop child mental health in Cambodia, particularly, was silently being my mentor. My last meeting her was on 17 January 2019 with a wonderful dinner in a restaurant in Phnom Penh. Her works and dedicated will be remembered. Condolence to her family. Wishing her soul Rest in Peace 🌹🌹🌹

I was so sad to hear the news of Anula’s sudden death. She was an inspiration. I admired the way in which she combined rigour, passion, and grace and helped us all to understand the importance of being creative and flexible in our teaching whilst keeping an expectation of unwaveringly high standards. I can hear her now arguing against measures that seemed unfair for overseas students. My condolences to family and current colleagues. .

Very sad news. Anula made such a wonderful contribution, particularly in the areas of Cross Cultural education, studies and practice. Her courage in developing and sustaining services in Sri Lanka when there was still conflict, was remarkable. Engaging in training and research with her was always a pleasure, as were those happy encounters at Covent Garden and the Festival Hall. Music shared with Vijita and her children played such an enriching part of home life. Our deep sympathy to them all.

Sometimes we come across silent heroes who do so much for the society but never seek glory for it. Dr. Anula nikapota was one such silent hero. I met her for the first time here in Cambodia and I was so proud that she was a Sri Lankan like me and that she has done so much for Sri Lanka and for people in low income countries especially children and adolescents with mental health issues. I was amazed that even at the age of 77 she was so dynamic and active. She even encouraged me before she left. I just can’t believe that she is gone.Such an amazing soul. R.I.P

It is with deepest sadness I accepted this shocking news.
My professional relationship with Dr Nikapota goes back to 1970s. I first came to know her as a medical student in late 1970s. Then I worked with her at the Ward Place Private Hospital in Colombo Sri Lanka (early 80s) where she use to see her private patients ( a very limited numbers of needy people). I first heard about abreaction from her .
Later I met her as a senior colleague and my trainer in Child and Adolescent mental health when i joined the Maudsley training scheme. A lot of people use to ask me why I wanted to work for a Sri Lankan trainer. It was obvious. She was a real expert in this field with utmost sensitivity to cultural aspects of care especially for children. She was an excellent clinician from whom I learnt a lot. Most of my post tsunami work in Sri Lanka to help children were grounded in what i learnt from her.
Then we (with late Padmal De Silva and Dr Shamil Wanigaratne) formed the UK Sri Lankan Trauma Group. She was passionately committed to help those who were affected; from both sides of the conflict.
There were many instances, i recall, we had differences of opinion but she always discussed those with extreme respect and we worked very closely. I will remember he as one of the most committed individuals who contributed significantly to teh field especially in providing help to those who were affected.
She will remain in my memory until my death as some one who i have a huge respect for who she was.
Mat she attain nibbhana

Extremely sad news. My deepest condolences to her family and to her extensive professional family. I am still in shock and disbelief. I did the deploma in 1991 and knew her well since. She was quite maternal to her students. Only later in my clinical work I realised how much I learnt from her. She was a truly multi talented and wonderful person.

In the summer of 2008, Dr. Nikapota hosted a wonderful lunch for our CAMHS MSc group at her family home. A personal story which has profoundly touched my life, was her sharing that she got cold feet, leaving Sri Lanka for the UK. Whenever in serious lack of courage in my life, I’ve remind myself that even she -a person of such gravitas, dedication and determination- had to be encouraged to take the leap. An extra layer to this was her readiness to embrace the vulnerability of sharing this with her students, and I came to appreciate this frankness, as time went on, in becoming a psychotherapist myself. Over the course of her life and career, she made a mark on so many people’s lives (whether patients, students, co-workers, research collaborators or whole organisations) that I believe years will pass before the true size and effect of it can be appreciated. She will not be forgotten.

It is with great sadness and a huge feeling of loss that I learnt of Dr Anula Nikapotas passing . I had the greatest pleasure working with her as a member of the UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group and Anulas vast knowledge and experience and her natural ability to blend this with sensitivity grace and passion effortlessly marked her apart from other professionals .She helped our charity Helplanka to reach hundreds of children traumatised by the effects of the Tsunami and through her guidance we have managed to intervene in preventing abuse and implement training workshops in Sinhala that is culturally specific which will be a lasting legacy .May she attain Nibbana and I give thanks for her devotion and expertise .

I enjoyed greatly working with Anula in her early Sri Lanka days, on helping children in difficulties – including in situations of armed conflict. Like all genuinely good clinicians, she was able to work effectively with families and communities beyond the clinical setting.
We still work with families and communities in improving child development, wellbeing and future character – as we did with Anula. Trying to keep this scientific is as rewarding as the results in children’s lives improving. We continue to be amazed by what even the most deprived families are able to achieve for their children, with just a little guidance.

My tribute to Anula will be to actively disseminate the many successes that have continued to flow from initiatives jointly launched with her, decades ago.
Admirers of Anula and her work are welcome to contact me at
to find out the nature of initiatives that still flourish and to get ideas on how they too may inform us and be informed.

Diyanath Samarasinghe

I am shocked and saddened to hear of Anula’s passing. I first met with her when I was involved as a Honorary Secretary with the UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group in 2011. She was a very inspiring consultant for me. She will be greatly missed . My condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace.

It is such a shock when someone so full of life suddenly departs it. I worked for many happy years with Anula in Brixton Child Guidance Clinic. Unfailing energy and a mischievous sense of humour, she tolerated my peculiar psychoanalytic view of families and we were good colleagues and friends. What a power-house of work and projects and ideas and innovations she was, her feet never touching the ground except for the squeezed in night at the opera or musical event. Anula cared about people, cared about children and families and brought passion to the things she cared about. It was a life very well lived.

Im so shocked to hear this sad news today.
I first met Dr Anula at ‘Samuththana’ Sri Lanka when I needed guidance on a Child Mental Health project. She was a dear colleague of my late Prof Dr Hemantha Wickramatillake, who suggested that I meet with Dr Anula to see if she can help me.
During our weekly informal discussions I told her about my uncertainties of being an aviator primarily and working towards my Master in Public Health, a totally different field. In response, she challenged me to lead the effort. Her subtle sense of humour and stories of her successes and setbacks helped me to tap into my own energy reserves.
Always insisting on asking questions rather than proposing answers, Dr Anula emphasized that it’s often better to do something small and conventional that can actually make a difference than to do something big and far-out that isn’t going to go anywhere.
May her beautiful soul Rest in Eternal Peace!

Deeply saddened and shocked to learn hear Anula’s sudden departure. She was an expert in the field of Child Psychiatry, healing troubled children across continents, a skilled clinical teacher/trainer, a researcher and a very warm and understanding person. She was a guiding light in my life and I had the good fortune of having her as a teacher in the Colombo Medical School, a co-supervisor for my MD thesis in Sri Lanka. She inspired me to explore the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and I met her again at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Child Health in London when I did the Postgraduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 1996 as the Leader of the course.
I appreciate her valuable advice and support since I migrated to the UK in 2004. I would always remember her with love and gratitude. She would not only be missed by her family but by a whole host of people who have met her and got inspired by her determination and commitment to the field of Child Psychiatry. May you attain Nibbana!

A unique soul: smile enchanting – care unequaled – wisdom unsurpassed – contributions profound – always adding never detracting.

Sadly missed – never forgotten.

Eternal rest grant upon her O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

I am still coming to terms with the loss of Anula … she was a vibrant force on the ACAMH Board and a passionate advocate of our work to support child and adolescent mental health in low income countries. We will miss her warmth and intellect, and cherish the memory of all she did for children across the world. When Anula entered a discussion, the temperature became a little warmer and the tone more humane. Always thoughtful, always going straight to the nub of the matter.

An amazing lady and a great family friend. She influenced me to think about studying medicine and encouraged me and helped me organise my wonderful elective in Sri Lanka. She was so good at discussing and challenging any difficult situations and so wise. Hard to say no to as well and a lot of fun. She is the best example of ‘livinglifetothefull’!She will be so missed. Love to all her family, friends and colleagues and the many folk whose lives she touched.

As a child I believe I used to visit the beautiful Dr Anula Nikapota in Dagenham. Dr Nikapota and I used to dicuss my life but we would also discuss international cuisine, the beauty of sarees – particularly Sri Lankan and South Indian cooking and the spices used. But one of my strongest memories is us discussing her jewellery – I had quite a few rings worn horrifically all together – she had a square yellow ring that was quite lovely which I was shocked to find out was a sapphire. I was shocked as I had childishly believed sapphires only came in blue! Dr Nikapota, taught me that they do come in yellow – and indeed, white!

I feel real pain to hear Dr Anula Nikapota is no more, but she will always remain in my heart, a wise doctor, a great lady, and the best life coach who shined brightly in a sea of unwise titled professionals- I was able to distinguish between titled professionals without substance and those who were profound. I was always outspoken as a child – which has remained with me in adulthood. Dr Nikapota was a profound doctor and now a profound memory who will remain in my heart for my lifetime. Definitely my number one influence in life. I do not have a middle name but I do now – Anula!

RIP Anula. I still remember her extensive volunteering work for the victims of Tsunami in Sri Lanka. She is one of those who influenced my life path. Strong, hard-working and dedicated; but motherly and sweet. She used to invite all her students to her home at the end of their course. I wish I had the chance to see her again. lots of love.

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