Runners get ready for the start of a race. The Defeat Depression Walk/Run for Mental Health takes place May 12. (Black Press File)

Mental health walk/run aims to outpace depression

Walk increased to 5k, run to 10k

The second annual Defeat Depression Walk/Run for Mental Health takes place May 12 at Elk and Beaver Lakes Park.

The event hopes to raise funds and awareness for mental health, with the principal charity being the Peninsula Youth Clinic.

One of the organizers Ryan Painter, who describes himself as a mental health and anti-stigma activist, describes the goals of the event.

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“It’s a lot of entertainment and exercise, the aims and intentions are to raise funds for local non-profits for mental health. 75 per cent of the money stays local.”

He says he got involved with the event due to his own struggles with depression, and believes being open about mental health is a powerful step in supporting people who might be silently struggling with anxiety, panic disorders or depression.

“I wanted to bring the discussion out into the physical open, give a space to do it, as well as to exercise and raise money,” he says.

By popular demand, the organizers have increased the distance of the run to 10k and the walk to 5k. They have also made it coincide with Mother’s Day.

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“There is a huge need to talk about post-partum depression and depression affecting women,” says Painter. “Women between 18-25 have a higher chance of mental health issues and substance abuse, they are also more likely to attempt to die by suicide than men, who unfortunately are more likely to succeed.”

Last year the event raised just over $7000 for Connections Place in Victoria and the organizers are aiming to top $10,000 this year. Already, supporters have pledged over $1,000.

Individuals and teams can donate and secure sponsorship from family, friends and co-workers.

The event is designed to be fun and friendly, utilizing the beautiful trails around Elk and Beaver lakes.

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The government estimate that about 11 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women in Canada will experience major depression in the course of their lives.

Painter says there is a “suicide crisis in this country” and he hopes the event will reduce stigma, increase awareness and highlight how exercise is often a useful tool in recovery.

The registration fee is $25, but you receive $40 worth of free swag, including a t-shirt, bandana, backpack and sticker.Registration takes place from 10 a.m. at the second parking lot off Elk Lake Road, by the filter beds. The race starts at 11 a.m.

For more information visit their facebook page facebook.com/Victoria.DefeatDepression.ca


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