One in three Scottish men have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of feeling stressed

New statistics published today, National Stress Awareness Day, by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland show that over a third of Scottish men (37%) have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of feeling stressed.

The survey findings, also being released to coincide with Men’s Health Awareness Month, also revealed that men were more likely to turn to alcohol as a result of high stress levels, with nearly a third of men in Scotland (31%) reporting that they had started drinking alcohol or increased the amount of alcohol they drank in order to cope.

With two people on average dying by suicide in Scotland every day, we still have the highest rate in the UK after Northern Ireland. The survey, commissioned by YouGov, identifies the huge impact that stress can have on men across Scotland and highlights the warning signs of men’s mental ill health.

Uncertainty over jobs and employment, and money worries were just some of the reasons cited as being causes of stress, with over a quarter of men surveyed reporting that not having enough money to meet basic needs was a key cause of stress. Meanwhile the impact of stress could be seen on both a physical and psychological level, with over half (53%) of those surveyed reporting that stress had an impact on sleep, while 56% reported feelings of anxiety as a result of stress in their lives.

Head of MHF Scotland Lee Knifton 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.

“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.”

Frances Beck, whose 24-year-old son Conor tragically took his own life earlier this year said: “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 2nd 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 added: “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 mis held 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.”

MHF Scotland is encouraging men to come together this Men’s Health Awareness Month and open up about stress and mental health with the people around them to prevent problems escalating:

5 Tips for Stress Management:

Recognise when stress is causing problems and identify the causes: Try to identify the reasons for your feelings of stress. Ask yourself if you are taking on too much or if there is anything that can be handed over to someone else. Build supportive relationships and social networks: Find close family and/or friends who can offer help and practical advice. Joining a club, volunteering, or enrolling on a course are some ways to expand your social network and encourage you to try something different.Look after your physical health: Try to eat healthily, get regular physical exercise, and be aware of your smoking, drinking and caffeine intake. Get restful sleep & take some time out: Try to take time to relax and find a balance between responsibility to yourself and others. Ensure you get enough rest, as sleeping problems can be common when feeling stressed Seek support: If you continue to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Speak to a friend or family member or contact your GP. If you need someone straight away contact Samaritans on 116 123 (UK) for free at any time.