Starbucks boosts mental health benefits with new app

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Starbucks employees now have free access to Headspace, an app which provides hundreds of audio sessions and meditations to manage and improve mental health.

Headspace is part of a larger Starbucks initiative aimed at supporting the mental health and well-being of its employees. The app covers topics like personal growth, life challenges, kids and parenting, stress management, anxiety and physical health, among others. The app is typically $12.99 a month or $69.99 for a yearly subscription, but will be offered for free to all Starbucks employees.

The company said it will also launch a new employee assistance program and mental health first aid training in the coming months.

The offering is part of a bigger trend of employers, such as PNC and Ocean Spray, that have renewed their benefits to better address mental health. About 86% of employers offer some type of mental health coverage, according to statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management.

“The mental health crisis across the United States and Canada is a complex and difficult problem, with one in five adults experiencing mental illness in various forms each year,” said Molly Spence Sahebjami, director of social impact communications at Starbucks. “Through this initiative, we aim to break the stigma around mental health and support the mental health and well-being of our [employees].”

Read More: Why mental health in the workplace matters — and what you can do about it

The employee assistance program was created with feedback from staff and qualified mental health experts to connect more employees to care that meets their specific needs, the company said.

The training, which is being designed for Starbucks by the National Council for Behavioral Health, is for all U.S. and Canada store managers and is inspired by Mental Health First Aid, a national program that teaches the skills to respond to signs of mental illness and substance use.

“We know our employees experience challenges with mental health first hand every day – in their personal lives, in their stores, and in the neighborhoods we serve,” Spence Sahebjami said.

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