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Australian rugby league legend Andrew Johns has set off on an epic six day walk to raise awareness of mental health.

The former Newcastle Knights captain was joined by over 500 supporters – including Australian Prime Minister Paul Rudd – on the first stage of his journey on Sunday. The 176-mile walk will take Johns from Newcastle to Sydney, and will raise awareness and funds for research into bipolar disorder.

In recognition of Johns’ walk, Paul Rudd also pledged Aus$2 million (US$1.4 million) to the Black Dog Institute, an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in mood disorders.

“If we can raise some awareness and get people talking, especially young people who are under so much pressure these days with HSC and things in their life, [and get them] talking to loved ones and parents and friends, then I’m doing it for the right reasons,” said Johns.

More information about the walk – which finishes on October 24 – can be found at NibAndrewJohnsWalk.com.au.

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