August 17, 2018

AG strives to shut down mental health stigma

Tyrone-based manufacturer, AG, has taken the bold move to address the stigma surrounding mental health issues within construction by enrolling staff in a two-day Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) programme.

Ten managers across the company’s eight sites have taken part in the programme, with further plans to roll this training out to more employees in the near future; ensuring positive mental health advocates are always at hand for staff within AG.

The training coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (14th – 20th May 2018), and comes on the back of the company’s wider Health and Wellbeing initiative ‘Activ8’.

The MHFA programme teaches participants:

  • How to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems;
  • How to provide initial help;
  • How to go about guiding a person towards appropriate professional help.

Cathy Read, HR Business Partner, at AG commented, “The link between poor mental health and the construction industry is well documented. From depression, anxiety and stress to rates of suicide, research has shown time after time that the construction industry is suffering in silence when it comes to mental health issues. An industry mental health survey in 2017 revealed that one in four construction workers have considered suicide.[1]

“Working within the construction industry, health and safety is always a priority, but mental health all too often falls below the radar. Through this programme we want to create a culture at AG where employees feel supported, valued and empowered to seek help for any issues around mental health.

“Our workforce is predominantly male which makes mental health first aid especially important. Males are typically less likely to seek out help for mental health issues due to the surrounding stigma[2] so we wanted to help staff recognise mental health problems and make them aware of the help available.

“We are already seeing the impact of the training programme as staff who have taken part will be hosting Tea and Talk sessions across our different sites during Mental Health Awareness Week.  The aim of these sessions is to raise awareness about Mental Health, to help employees identify signs/symptoms, to advise them on self-care strategies and also the sources of support available”.

Established in 1960, AG is one of the most trusted producers of innovative concrete products in Northern Ireland and beyond. Now an employer of more than 300 people, across eight sites located at Fivemiletown, Dungannon, Ballygawley, Birmingham, Carryduff, Toome, Pomeroy and Derry, it remains a family-run business, committed to the highest standards of product quality, company culture and staff care.


[1] https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/best-practice/mind-matters/have-your-say-cns-2018-mental-health-survey/10030317.article

[2] https://www.kcl.ac.uk/kcmhr/publications/assetfiles/2017/Coleman2017.pdf