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'Jess Marais is helping reduce the stigma'

Richelle and Hayley Turpin.
But like so many others, Richelle was battling mental illness - and tragically after years of depression, she took her own life on March 9.
The Weekly's story on Jessica Marais and her battle with bipolar, was all too familiar for Richelle's younger sister, Hayley, 24, who says there are striking similarities between the actress and her late sister.
"It's great to see celebrities like Jessica Marais having the courage to step out and share her story," Hayley tells The Weekly. "Mental illness does not discriminate and affects so many young women in today's society.
"I hope that by openly discussing mental health we can reduce the stigma and encourage other people who are suffering to speak up and seek help."
Hayley, along with her sisters, Brooke, 22, and Samantha, 16, have joined friends in an initiative to raise awareness about mental illness.
The group have planned a community beach walk at Wanda in Sydney's south during Mental Health Week in October.
A Facebook page promoting the event, named Step Ahead — One Step Ahead of Mental Illness also encourages people to seek help through positive posts.
Nearly half of the population will experience a mental disorder at some stage in their lives, according to SANE Australia.
Headspace CEO Chris Tanti says having ups and downs is normal, but someone with bipolar disorder will experience dramatic mood changes that will last longer than a few days and impact on their day-to-day lives, including work, study and relationships.
"Most people who develop bipolar disorder will experience some symptoms by the time they are 25," he says.
"Getting help when symptoms first arise is key to reducing problems in the future. Signs that something might be wrong include severe changes in mood, sleep patterns and energy levels.
"Family and friends can often be the first port of call when it comes to mental health issues and can really be impacted emotionally going through this with their loved one. So it's important that services are available to support them too."
If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, contact Lifeline - 13 11 14.

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