AHEAD of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, former Rangers striker Kris Boyd has opened up on his personal heartache following the tragic suicide of his brother.

Boyd’s sibling, Scott, took his own life in September 2016 at the age of just 27, following a battle with depression. And despite the family being close the former Ibrox and Kilmarnock frontman admits he was totally unaware of his brother’s troubles.

Following Scott’s death, the ex-Scotland international set up The Kris Boyd Charity to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide practical support to people experiencing anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

With cases of depression, anxiety and insomnia on the rise due to the current coronavirus crisis, Boyd is keen to share his story to help others through this tough time.

He said: "Mental health awareness means so much to me. I want to be able to help people. I don't want any family to go through what we've had to go through.

"It is mental health week coming up but the most important thing is that we treat every week as being a mental health week. It is that important.

"When we come out of lockdown a lot of people will be looking for help and it's important that help is there. I urge anybody out there not to suffer alone. Please open up. 

"What happened to my family in 2016 with Scott. I got a phone call from Lee Clark, my Kilmarnock manager at that time. 

"My family had been trying to get a hold of me and couldn't get me. Lee told me that I needed to phone home and it just gives you that feeling in your stomach. It's just a sixth sense that tells you something has happened here. The world just ends.

"After a passage of time I spoke to my mum and said I felt there was an opportunity to start a charity and help people. When I looked at what had gone on in our family and wanted to stop other families from going through it.

"She initially said 'no,no,no' and maybe didn't want wounds opening up. Then a week passed and she phoned me up to ask if I had started that charity yet. She wanted me to do it.

"I thought to myself there is something that needs to be done here and we wanted to make a difference.

"The biggest thing for me is that I'm still learning about it all. It is vitally important to educate people on mental health, in terms of when people open up to you, do not reject them. 

"Listen to what they've got to say. If they open up and tell you they are struggling, be there for them. It will have taken a lot for that person to open up so be there for them in the best way you can. 

"When it happened to my family then I knew I had to open up my eyes and ears and educate myself to help people and families.”

Speaking on The Lockdown Tactics Podcast, Boyd added that his brother would be proud of his efforts in helping to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

He continued: "Yeah, it comes into my head. But I'd do anything in the world to have him back. The most important thing is that we keep going because I don't want anyone to go through what we've all been through. We're helping people.

"I'm not saying we have a cure but I know we are helping people. I want to keep going. I want to get to a stage that gives us something, working with the kids and helping the kids is great.

"We want to help people in Ayrshire, in Scotland and all over the UK. There is loads that can still be done. 

“We need to keep pushing on. There is a lot of focus on the virus but as we come out of this there needs to be a lot of focus on the mental health aspect."

Boyd spent a number of years abroad without his family during a career where he netted 213 goals in 475 games.

And despite enjoying his time at both the Portland Timbers in America and Eskisehirspor in Turkey, he insists the support has to be in place for footballers who are making major sacrifices for the benefit of their future.

The 36-year-old added: "I missed the majority of my kids' life growing up. I was playing in Turkey and America and the family wasn't with me. My wife, Christine, was basically a single parent for a number of years. 

 "That's when it hits home. I wasn't there as a father for my kids when they were younger. That's the sacrifices you make to have a career.

"It's not until you finish and you look back and say 'Have I got the best relationship with my kids?' 'Did I do enough for my kids when they were growing up?'

"Hopefully my kids, further down the line will realise what I tried to do for them and what I've done for them.

"Everybody thinks that the life of a footballer is all roses, but it's not.

"I'll never forget going back a few years and I had an idea to start a charity. It was based around youngsters in football at professional clubs, maybe around 15,16 and 17, and do we do enough to look after them?

"I was coming to the end of my career and thought that maybe there was something there to help young players who may well have been led up the garden path about their dream of playing football.

"They then get released at 17 years old and there is nobody there to look after them. That needs to be addressed in football."

The Lockdown Tactics is a brand new podcast, hosted by former Scotland stars Robert Snodgrass and Kris Boyd.

Every week TLT will talk to big names with its core focus being on mental health and wellbeing. It's chosen charity partner is The Kris Boyd Charity. 

To watch the full interview with Kris, go to YouTube and the various Lockdown Tactics social media platforms. Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend is also a guest. It will be available from 12.00 tomorrow.