POLISH men living in Scotland worry about telling people how they’re feeling, are experiencing loneliness and facing discrimination in society, contributing to a “worryingly” high rate of suicide.

Research carried out by Edinburgh-based Polish charity Feniks and NHS Lothian in 2018 revealed that the level of suicides among the Polish men in Scotland is nearly twice as high as among Scots.

Yesterday, Feniks released a new study exploring why Polish men are turning to suicide, with mental health stigma, loneliness, social difficulties and a lack of understanding of the Scottish health care system all contributing.

The new study, Mental Health and Suicides Among Polish Men In Scotland, has been done in partnership with See Me, the national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Researchers spoke to 173 men via a survey and focus groups, of which 66% said they had suicidal thoughts, and 25% had attempted suicide.

Paweł Kopec, Feniks peer researcher, said: “The responses in the questionnaire proved that the Polish men have serious mental health problems, but they do not know how to talk about them openly.

“It highlights a hidden, but urgent need within the community to address the barriers to help-seeking and to tackle the mental health stigma amongst the Polish men in Scotland.”

The researchers found that stigma plays a big role in Polish men not wanting to talk about their feelings, often they stigmatise themselves and don’t think they should reach out to others.

It also found that Polish men feel like they have to live up to the stereotype of the self-sufficient hard-worker who doesn’t need help from others. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness.

A lack of understanding of the Scottish health care system is a big barrier to Polish men, according to the study. Without access to professional support at the time when they realise that they cannot deal with their problems alone, some unfortunately turn to suicide.

Discrimination from society can also make Polish men feel like second class citizens, according to the charities.

Magdalena Czarnecka, Feniks CEO, said: “In health care, Polish men have almost no awareness that you can talk to the GP about mental health.”