Tyson Fury says it is his “calling” to help people with mental health problems and that rival Deontay Wilder’s views on the issue are “uneducated”.
Fury will fight American Wilder on 1 December for the WBC heavyweight title.
It will be the Briton’s third bout since he vacated his WBO and WBA titles to focus on treatment for depression.
Other than boxing, I think this is my calling – trying to help other people with the same problems,” Fury told BBC Sport.
“Trying to get it across that you are not a weak person, you are not a let down, you are not a failure.
“People won’t laugh at you. It is an illness. Just like cancer. Just like every other illness out there. This is a real, real problem.”
He added: “Mental health is one of the biggest issues we have now in the world. It’s a silent killer. It’s just a constant battle with yourself.
“The more it’s talked about, the more it becomes open and will smash the stigma of mental health.
“If I can get through it and live a normal happy life I suppose everybody else can too.”
Wilder, 33, has a 40-0 unbeaten record going into the fight in Los Angeles and said Fury was “trying to feed off this mental illness thing like it isn’t a recurring issue with the world”.
“We all have been there – I can tell you stories about myself,” Wilder said.
‘It’s a choice’
“[It’s] a state of mind where we feel like killing ourselves and feel like doing the wrong thing or something to ourselves because life isn’t going right.
“He put himself in that position. Drinking is a choice and, once we continue to do it, it becomes a habit. Doing drugs is a choice and, if you continue to do it, it becomes a habit. If that habit continues it becomes life-threatening.
“I’ve been there. We all have been there. I took hold of my life.
“I thought about my kids and said ‘I ain’t going out like no punk’. So now he overcomes this situation and he wants to take advantage of it, which he should.”
Fury reacted by saying: “There was no drinking … the day after the [Klitschko] fight I was totally depressed and wanted to die. This is before alcohol and drug abuse, so that opinion means nothing to me at all.
“It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand what you are going through but, listening to that message, it’s clear to see that he doesn’t have mental health problems and he has never had mental health problems.”