THERE is more to the story behind the "No Stigma, Not Mental" theme chosen for the Miss World Fiji 2012 Beauty with a Purpose pageant.
Pageant director Andhy Blake was a former mental health patient and urged for more advocacy and awareness on the issue for the people of Fiji.
"I suffered from depression for three years, was bedridden for two to three weeks and had eating disorders," Mr Blake said.
"The Miss World pageant is a platform to help push for a cause that's close to my heart," he said.
The stylist said he felt heartbroken after hearing stories of the treatment of individuals who suffered from mental health in their own communities.
"We need to educate people on how to treat their mentally ill friends and relatives and we also lack the ability to educate those who go through the mental health system," he said.
Mr Blake said his suffering prompted him to use the pageant to raise funds for the implementation of a five-year plan that would establish a mental health centre to counsel individuals suffering from the illness.
"People are afraid to say they suffer from a mental illness because of the stigma that's attached to it and I hope the centre would urge them to share their experiences," he said.
Mr Blake said plans were in the pipeline to place trained counsellors that would offer advice and guide sufferers out of their "dark places".
He has invited corporate houses to donate to the cause during the "Fire and Ice" cocktail on Friday, April 20.