Mental-health giant was always gentle - Professor Fred Hickling remembered as inspirational mentor to budding psychiatrists
His initial ambition was to become a prime minister or a minister of health, but as friends and colleagues eulogised Professor Emeritus Dr Frederick Hickling during his thanksgiving service on Thursday, it was clear that advocating for the mentally ill had been his true calling.
“He had great aspirations to change the system, but as time went on, it became clear to him that he had more to contribute in terms of mental health,” said his long-time friend and colleague, Professor Renn Holness.
Professor Hickling died on May 7, after a long and illustrious career as a psychiatrist and a professor. Becoming the head of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Psychiatry Department and the executive director of the Caribbean Institute of Mental Health were among his many achievements.
Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI Mona, Dr Tomlin Paul, said Professor Hickling was the consummate academic.
“Prof Hickling was fierce; he was very strong in his feelings; he was sometimes controversial, but in all of this, he was always gentle and inspiring and he mentored and nurtured a whole host of psychiatrists who now serve not only in Jamaica, but the region and, I guess, internationally,” he said.
Hickling’s daughter, Daniella, said she and her siblings knew his work intimately, but despite his immersion into his varying causes, he lived a balanced life by focusing on fun, food and family.
“He believed in learning through and from experiences, and so that was what he gave us ... experiences,” she said as she gave her accounts of several trips she and her siblings took with their father.
Professor Hickling is survived by his widow, Dr Hilary Robertson-Hickling, and his children, Deborah, Daniella, Akindele and Chinua.