MORE than one-third of stressed-out Scottish men have had suicidal thoughts, according to a new study .

Research by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) Scotland found 37% of men had experienced the thoughts as a result of stress. And 31% said they had started drinking more – some every day – to cope.

READ MORE: Holyrood ministers to probe young people's access to mental health help

The results were released on Weednesay to mark National Stress Awareness Day, which also coincides with Men’s Health Awareness Month.

The National:

Lee Knifton, pictured above, is head of MHF Scotland. He said: “Men are still less likely to open up to a family member or a friend when feeling stressed.

“While stress isn’t a mental health problem, it can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm and tragically, suicide.

“We know that some of the ways that men are dealing with stress – such as alcohol and drugs – can often intensify underlying feelings.”

Two people in Scotland die by suicide every day, giving the country the second-highest rate in the UK.

Only Northern Ireland has a more acute problem.

Around 500 men were questioned by pollsters YouGov for the new research.

Respondents said work and money were major causes of concern.

More than one-quarter of respondents said not having enough money to meet basic needs was a key contributor to their stresses.

More than half of people said stress had a negative impact on their sleep patterns and around the same level reported feelings of anxiety as a result of stress.

The charity wants men to “open up” about their mental health issues to help “prevent problems escalating”.

A five-point plan includes recognising stress and identifying its causes, building supportive relationships with family and friends and looking after physical health by exercising and eating well, as well as cutting down alcohol and caffeine consumption.

It also includes making time to rest and relax and seeking support when feeling “overwhelmed”.

Knifton stated: “We need to address how men in our society are expected to cope when they feel under pressure.

“This includes creating mentally healthy and compassionate workplaces and schools where young boys are supported to discuss their emotions. But it also means looking after our most vulnerable with a welfare system that treats people with dignity and respect.

“We all have a responsibility to shift the culture and talk to the men in our lives.

“If you are worried about someone in your life who is going through a hard time, talking is the first step.”

Mother Frances Beck, whose student son Conor took his own life earlier this year, said it takes “courage” for men to come forward, with stereotypes about masculinity holding some back.

Sharing her story, she commented: “Men are three-times more likely to die by suicide than women and heartbreakingly my eldest son, at the age of just 24, was one of those young men.

“Conor was in the second year of his degree course at university and like many young people, was under a great deal of stress for several reasons.

“This took its toll on his mental health and if not caused, definitely worsened his depression.

She went on: “There is no shame in talking about how you feel and seeking help, and if you have the courage to do so, you will encourage others to do the same.

“There is a misheld belief that doing so will make you less of a man. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s too late for Conor and there is nothing I can do to bring him back, but I really hope our story encourages others to seek the help they need before it’s too late.”