Western announces recipients of Leadership in Wellness Award of Recognition

By: Nicole Bullock
Monday, October 2, 2017

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins of Western's Wellness Education Centre presents Dr. Crooks and Dr. Bax with their awards.

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins of Western's Wellness Education Centre presents Dr. Crooks and Dr. Bax with their awards.

The Centre for School Mental Health congratulates the success of Dr. Claire Crooks and Dr. Karen Bax following the recent announcement of the inaugural Western Leadership in Wellness Award of Recognition. Crooks and Bax are being recognized as Western faculty members who promote the mental health of their students in their daily work at Western.

The Leadership in Wellness Award of Recognition was developed as a next step in engaging more Western faculty members in creating and sustaining mentally healthy classrooms for their students. The inaugural recipients of the award are esteemed faculty members who are already doing this work, and are therefore role models for other faculty members who want to promote student mental health in their classrooms, but aren’t sure how to do it or where to begin. 

As researchers, educators, supervisors, and mentors, Dr. Crooks and Dr. Bax are dedicating their careers to what this prestigious award recognizes.

Crooks and Bax reflect on the award as a true honour. “University is such an important time for young adults to develop and strengthen their wellbeing. There is so much pressure on them to perform. It is imperative that supervisors and instructors take a holistic approach in our mentoring and do not emphasize productivity to the exclusion of wellbeing,” said Crooks. In addition, Bax emphasizes, “Mental health something I feel passionate about in my research and teaching, so it is also an issue I want to strongly advocate for as I strive to be sensitive to the mental health of all of those around me in my day-to-day life.

Crooks is the Director of the Centre for School Mental Health and the Principal Investigator on numerous research grants looking at effective strategies for promoting child and youth wellbeing. She strives for knowledge mobilization and producing tools that will help front line educators and community partners in their roles with youth. Crooks is also indisputably committed to the many graduate level students in which she mentors and supervises on an ongoing basis. “My research highlights the importance of social and emotional well-being for children from kindergarten to grade 12, and there is no reason to think that wellbeing gets any less important once you leave school. Being able to mentor and support undergraduate and graduate students is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” said Crooks.

Bax is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Education and Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre. The Mary J. Wright Centre is not only a site for interdisciplinary research in child development, it is also a teaching site for doctoral students in the Faculty of Education’s School and Applied Psychology, and Dr. Bax is their clinical supervisor. Bax is also an Affiliated Researcher with the Centre for School Mental Health, where she and Crooks work closely together. “The quality of our relationship with students is at the heart of teaching and learning,” said Bax. “To be recognized for this award is such an honour – I am so glad my students felt my support.”

Crooks and Bax were presented their award by Wellness Coordinator Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins from Western’s Wellness Education Centre during a celebration on October 2. Both Crooks and Bax received a certificate of recognition, and their names will be placed on a plaque in the Wellness Education Centre in Western’s University Community Centre (UCC). A timely acknowledgement as Western kicks off their Wellness Week, running from October 2-6.

“All our research focuses on the importance of wellbeing and mental health. This award is a wonderful honour in that it validates that we value wellbeing and mental health in all of our endeavors,” said Crooks.

Congratulations to Dr. Crooks and Dr. Bax on this well-deserved recognition!