Starbucks to offer therapy sessions to employees

It’s the coffee giant’s latest addition to its mental health offerings.
By: | March 16, 2020 • 2 min read

Starbucks is adding mental health sessions for its employees as part of its recent commitment to improve its mental health benefits.

Beginning April 6, Starbucks will provide all U.S. employees—and their eligible family members—access to 20 sessions a year with a mental health therapist or coach through provider Lyra Health, at no cost to the user. Sessions can be in-person or via video-chat. Employees also will have unlimited access to self-care apps through Lyra Health.

The new benefit, announced Monday, was based on employee feedback in “order to understand what they really need and would really use,” according to Ron Crawford, vice president of global benefits at Starbucks. It’s the latest update in the coffee giant’s mental health initiative announced last September, with an aim to promote mental wellness among its workers.

The company’s other mental health benefits include free access to Headspace, a daily meditation and mindfulness app, and mental health training sessions for store managers in partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health, available this summer.

Mental health programs are a growing area of commitment for employers as they witness the toll that conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress and burnout are wreaking on the workforce.

See also: Chipotle to roll out mental, financial wellness benefits

“By helping employees to cope more effectively with their stress, mental health programs can increase employee productivity, which benefits both employers and employees, many of whom derive significant satisfaction from being successful at work,” says Renee Schneider, vice president of clinical quality at Lyra Health.

Mental health programs also are helpful in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing fear and anxiety among workers, Schneider says.

“As employees are inundated with news related to coronavirus, from the World Health Organization declaring it a global pandemic to Walt Disney World closing, feelings of anxiety and stress are inevitable,” she says. “Mental health programs can help to normalize employees’ feelings, while also teaching them new skills for effectively managing distress.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.