Ryan Painter, a local mental health and anti-stigma activist, announced his candidacy for trustee of the Greater Victoria School District in the Oct. 20 election. Photo contributed

Mental health activist running for seat on Greater Victoria School District board

Ryan Painter aims to build better strategies for youth: “We’re in a mental health crisis”

Ryan Painter, a self-described mental health and anti-stigma activist, has announced his intent to run for trustee of the Greater Victoria School Board in the Oct. 20 municipal election.

“We’re in a mental health crisis, and we need to start looking at building strategies and methods of providing youth and young adults with the tools they need to address life’s most complex challenges,” Painter said.

The 34-year-old administrative officer with the University of Victoria Faculty Association said in a release his aim is to “inject new energy, fresh ideas, and a bold vision for how the school board engages with the broader community.”

His five-point plan includes; advocating for the implementation of a district-wide mental health framework; ensuring each SD61 school has a dedicated youth co-ordinator; holding monthly open houses in all SD61 communities; and holding monthly meetings with teacher and staff union reps as well as with school administrators.

RELATED: Centre for youth seeking mental health and addictions support opens in Victoria

Having struggled with depression and mental illness himself, Painter felt earlier intervention would have significantly shaped his outcome. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was no real engagement on student mental health and wellness, he said.

“Knowing I wasn’t alone and that people cared would have provided me with a soft place to land.”

With experience as an organizer and community advocate, Painter hopes to bring new energy and innovative ideas to the board while actively engaging with parents, advocates, teachers and others concerned about education in the region.

“At my heart I’m all about people and engaging constituents where they live, work, and play to understand what their needs and concerns are,” he said.

For more information on the candidate, visit RyanPainter.ca or follow him on Twitter @votepainter.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Greater Victoria School District

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