- Starbucks announced this week that it now offers mental health training, called Mental Health Fundamentals, for U.S. assistant store managers, store managers and above, and all non-retail partners, according to a company release emailed to Restaurant Dive. The two-hour training program was created in partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health and is available through July 20.
- The training includes four, 30-minute modules focused on effective listening, providing encouragement and reassurance, offering informational resources and the importance of self-care.
- The offering builds on a mental health commitment Starbucks announced last September, wherein the chain pledged to destigmatize mental health needs through partnerships and advocacy; by connecting partners with quality care that meets their specific needs; by providing ongoing training to 12,000 store managers and by making a mental wellness app available to employees in the U.S. and Canada.
This is Starbucks' latest investment in mental health resources for its partners, signaling changing corporate expectations for employee benefits. The chain already provides its U.S. and Canada workers access to free Headspace subscriptions and mental healthcare benefits in partnership with Lyra Health that gives all U.S. employees and eligible family members access to 20 free sessions per year with a mental health therapist or coach.
The coffee chain isn't the only QSR launching progressive mental health benefits. Last year, Chipotle announced it will add mental healthcare and financial wellness programs to its benefits in 2020. All Chipotle employees and their family members can access personalized assistance from healthcare experts regardless of whether they are enrolled in the company's medical plan thanks to a partnership with Health Advocate.
Though much of the restaurant industry's recent benefits changes have been focused on the impact of COVID-19, investing in improved mental health benefits could also help employees better navigate this time of unprecedented uncertainty, especially given industry worker fears of returning to stores as novel coronavirus cases rise in the U.S.
Working in the food and beverage industry correlates with a high level of mental health issues, according to a 2017 report from Mental Health America, and the MHA's 2019 research indicates that this phenomenon is holding steady.
Starbucks has accrued a notable mission-based halo in the QSR space thanks to its benefits expansions over the years, including subsidized child and senior care for employees, but it recently came under fire for its dress code policy. The chain was called out for barring employees from wearing attire that supports the Black Lives Matter movement, despite allowing workers to wear Pride-affiliated attire, before reversing the decision.