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EXCLUSIVE: Casey Donovan gets real on her secret war with mental health for R U OK? Day

The Aussie singer has a special role as the poignant day rolls around this year.

By OK! team
These days Casey Donovan is riding high.
Her live show Chicago has opened to rave reviews, with critics praising her performance as prison queen bee Matron 'Mama' Morton.
"They're definitely big boots to fill," admits Casey, who follows in the footsteps of legends like Queen Latifah.
But it hasn't always been a smooth journey for the Australian Idol winner, whose life was torn apart when she discovered she'd been tricked into a relationship with a man who didn't exist as part of an elaborate six-year catfishing scheme.
In her 2014 book Big, Beautiful and Sexy, Casey also revealed her secret war with anxiety and depression.
Now an ambassador for R U OK? Day, Casey wants to inspire everyone to hold conversations with people who might be struggling – not just on September 12, but all year round.
In an OK! exclusive, Casey opens up about her mission.
Casey has opened up about mental health in a candid chat with OK! (Supplied)
OK!: What inspired you to sign on as an R U OK? ambassador?
Casey: I jumped at the opportunity as I've struggled with depression and anxiety throughout my life, and I think it's such an important cause to put my name to.
I needed to reach out, and I needed people to ask me if I was OK.
R U OK? does such a magnificent job at giving people the right tools to ask if someone's OK.
OK!: Do you have any tips on how to ask someone if they're OK?
Casey: It's something as easy as going out for a coffee and actually asking, 'Are you OK?' rather than making a passing comment.
You can see [if] their mannerisms have changed, and that's the moment where you go, 'Are you OK? Is everything alright? Let's have a chat.'
"Let's have a chat." - Casey is encouraging people to feel OK about asking others if they're OK. (Supplied)
OK!: How much did talking help you?
Casey: So much! If you can keep talking about it openly and freely and not detach yourself from it, you know that some healing has taken place.
I mean [being able to talk without] judgement is the biggest thing, and also having friends that will listen.
OK!: Your love-life has been in the spotlight because of your catfishing experience. How did you deal with that?
Casey: At the time I was just going through the motions. I'd written a book and spoken very openly and honestly about my catfishing situation.
I just found this inner strength to kind of go, 'Alright, this is out there now, and from that I can help other people in their life.'
[I wanted people in] similar situations or circumstances [to] go, 'Well, I needed to see this.'
OK!: Are you dating anyone now?
Casey: No [laughs]. Chicago is what I'm dating at the moment!
Casey is killing it on-stage in Chicago these days! (Supplied)
OK!: What's the best thing happening in your life right now?
Casey: Lots of things! Everything is great in my life. I'm in a great musical and surrounded by amazing, talented people and creatives, who spark a little bit of fire in my belly to go, 'Oh gosh, here we are.'
Yes, so there's lots of amazing things happening.
OK!: What advice would you give to young women?
Casey: My advice would be to go out and be happy.
Stop comparing yourself to what others are doing.
Live your life, and live the best life you can.
Just enjoy the little moments and be in the moment.
Don't let other people's judgement put you down.
You're you and you're perfectly you!
WATCH: Casey Donovan opens up about being Catfished. Story continues after video...

Casey's stronger than ever

"I've finally come to a point in my career, and myself, where I'm confident with who I am," Casey says.
"Yes, I do have some faults, I am human. But, here's what I'm working on, and here's what makes me happy."
And while opening up about her struggles was an all-important first step, Casey now practises mindfulness every day.
"In the last six months I've started meditation," says the star, who uses the app Insight Timer.
"Every morning I wake up and meditate – just to ground myself and to give myself the confidence that I'm moving in the right direction. It's been such a beautiful thing for me to do, and to not feel guilty for laying on the couch or sitting on a nice chair for 30 minutes."
Another thing people can do? Simply open your front door and step outside!
"Just going for a walk or sitting by the ocean and looking up – a lot of people forget to look up these days," Casey adds.
"Talk to friends, hang out with friends and don't box yourself in."

Numbers to call on

There are plenty of ways you can start a conversation at home or in your workplace, school, university or community.
Visit ruok.org.au for more info.
If someone you know isn't OK, encourage them to connect with a trusted health professional, or call one of these Australian helplines:

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