Starbucks serving up free mental-health benefits to U.S. staff

Starbucks Coffee Co. is offering eligible employees in the U.S. access to 20 free mental-health sessions per year beginning April 6.

Through provider Lyra Health Inc., employees will be able to meet with a therapist or coach in-person or via video. They’ll also be able to access self-guided online programs recommended by the provider based on their specific needs.

The new offerings are part of a comprehensive mental-heath initiative announced in September 2019. “Mental health is a fundamental part of our humanity and these resources will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and help break the stigma around this complex issue,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer at the coffee company, in a press release.

Read: Starbucks Canada increases mental-health benefits to $5,000

Read: Starbucks offering meditation app to all Canadian employees

In January 2020, Starbucks began offering Canadian and U.S. employees free subscriptions to meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. This summer, it will introduce mental-health training sessions for store managers across North America through a partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, Lori Digulla, president of Starbucks Canada, posted a letter to the company’s corporate site on Sunday, outlining the measures its Canadian stores are taking to keep employees and the public safe.

“Partner [employee] care is the top priority and we will take care of anyone impacted by these changes,” said Digulla in the letter. “Our expanded catastrophe pay program, which was shared last week, will apply when you are unable to work due to you or someone close to you having symptoms or confirmed diagnosis, or due to a store closure. We have also decided to supplement partner pay with catastrophe pay when working partners experience a reduction in scheduled hours.”

Read: Lower income workers likely to see least paid time off as pandemic swirls: report

Globally, Starbucks will invest up to an additional US$10 million into its emergency financial aid CUP Fund to support employee needs beyond pay, said the letter. The coronavirus has meant many Starbucks stores in Canada, and around the world, have had to scale back business considerably and it’s currently reviewing the details by which employees would be eligible for grants through the fund.

During these uncertain times, noted Digulla, Starbucks Canada continues to offer employees paid sick time, access to health-care resources, as well as support like its free mental-health app and its employee assistance program.