Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has urged those with mental health problems “to be more open” after speaking out about his own struggles.

Griffiths, 28, stepped back from playing in December because of depression only to return this month.

And the Scotland striker hopes being vocal about his feelings will ensure he remains in a better place.

“If something’s on your mind say it as ultimately I could be back in the same place and I don’t want to be,” he said.

“Looking at what’s happening in society nowadays, a lot of people are taking their own lives and, maybe if they open up and speak up a little bit, it can saves lives.”

Griffiths added: “It was very lonely at times and, without the help of the club, friends, family and support that I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here now.

“It has been a long and difficult road, but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“It was just a slow drip that was building up and [former Celtic manager] Brendan Rodgers has seen that and that’s when he stepped in, so it’s another thank you to him. Because, if he hadn’t stepped in, who knows where I’d have been?”

Griffiths paid tribute to the support he has received from fans, both at Celtic and from rival clubs during his spell away from football.

“Not just Celtic fans but fans all over Scotland,” said the father of five. “Rival fans that see me as that rogue on the pitch, but away from that I’m just a family man who tries to look after my family. It’s nice to see that fans can put football rivalry aside.”

Griffiths made his competitive return against Sarajevo on Wednesday in Champions League qualifying, coming on as a late second-half substitute.

He is also targeting a Scotland return but admits he has not spoken to new Scotland head coach Steve Clarke as yet.

“My phone is always on if he wants to give me a call and speak about things – that’s an open invitation,” Griffiths added.

“Neil Lennon told me this season is clean slate and told me to go and show everyone that you can still be a top player – and that’s what I’m trying to do.”