At the XII meeting of the Nordic Psychiatric Congress in Copenhagen in 1958, the subcommittee on psychopharmacology had discussed the perspective of a Scandinavian Society of Psychopharmacology. Parallel with this initiative, the executive of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP) contacted the Scandinavian colleagues about establishing a Scandinavian section of the CINP. It was the marked rise in psychotropic drugs in the 1950s (chlorpromazine and imipramine in Europe and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors in United States of America) that resulted in the birth of CINP in 1958.
On 5 February 1960, the SCNP was established with Arvid Carlsson (Sweden) as the Founding President and Jørgen Ravn (Denmark) as the Founding Secretary. Other board members were Erik Jacobsen (Denmark) and David H. Ingvar (Sweden). Present at this meeting were also (among others) Odd Lingjærde (Norway), Gunnar Lundqvist (Sweden), Carl-Gerhard Gottfries (Sweden), Asser Stenbäck (Finland), and Mogens Schou (Denmark) while Paul Kielholz from Switzerland was one of the guests from the Continent.
One of the major goals for establishing the SCNP was the standardisation of clinical trials with psychotropic drugs in Scandinavia.
The 1961 meeting was the first ordinary congress of the College. The board was elected at this meeting by the general assembly with Gunnar Lundqvist (Sweden) as the President and Jørgen Ravn (Denmark) as the Secretary. The other members of the board were Arvid Carlsson (Sweden), Erik Jacobsen (Denmark), and Tollak Sirnes (Norway). Since then, the SCNP has held annual congresses. Until 2009, the scientific contributions were all published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. Starting in 2013, the abstracts from the SCNP congresses were published in Acta Neuropsychiatrica, the official journal of the SCNP.