Starbucks Unveils Mental Health Initiatives for Employees

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek January 14, 2020
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Starbucks employees

​Starbucks has launched an app to help its employees improve their mental health and deal with anxiety and stress.

The global coffee company also announced it will be retooling its employee assistance program based on feedback from employees and mental health experts. It plans to offer training to its U.S. and Canada store managers on how to support workers who experience a mental health issue, substance-abuse problem or other crisis.

Every year, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness and one in 25 experience serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. And more people are killing themselves in the workplace, according to the Washington Post. The number of such suicides increased 11 percent between 2017 and 2018. Employers, the Post reported, "are struggling with how to respond."

Business Insider reported that some Starbucks employees it interviewed about the initiatives said much of their stress comes from the company cutting back on hours and relying on employees to work longer shifts with fewer people and no pay increase.

The World Health Organization points out that while work is good for mental health, a negative environment can lead to physical and mental health problems. Harassment and bullying at work, for example, can have "a substantial adverse impact on mental health," it said. There are things employers can do, though, to promote mental health in the workplace; such actions may also promote productivity.

SHRM Online has collected the following articles on this topic from its archives and other sources. 

Starbucks Announcements Its Commitment to Supporting Employees' Mental Health 

The company released a statement Jan. 6 about additions to its employee benefits and resources that support mental wellness.

"Our work ahead will continue to be rooted in listening, learning and taking bold actions," it said. In the past, that has included tackling topics such as loneliness, vulnerability "and the power of small acts and conversation to strengthen human connection."
(Starbucks)  

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Employee Assistance Programs]   

Mental Illness and the Workplace  

Companies are ramping up their efforts to navigate the mental health epidemic. Suicide rates nationally are climbing, workers' stress and depression levels are rising, and addiction—especially to opioids—continues to bedevil employers. Such conditions are driving up health care costs at double the rate of illnesses overall, according to Aetna Behavioral Health.

Starting workplace conversations about behavioral health is challenging because such conditions often are seen as a personal failing rather than a medical condition. 
(SHRM Online)   

Research: People Want Their Employers to Talk About Mental Health 

Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it. Despite the fact that more than 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions each year—$16.8 billion in employee productivity—mental health remains a taboo subject.
(Harvard Business Review)   

Viewpoint: Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace 

Companies are reassessing their behavioral health needs and are looking to their health care partners for creative, integrated and holistic solutions. Many are turning to employee assistance programs for help.
(Benefits Pro)  

4 Things to Know About Mental Health at Work 

Kelly Greenwood graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with degrees in psychology and Spanish. She holds a master's degree in business from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, contributes to Forbes magazine and is editor-at-large for Mental Health at Work, a blog on Thrive Global.

She also is someone who has managed generalized anxiety disorder since she was a young girl. It twice led to debilitating depression. She shared four things she wishes she had known earlier in her life about mental health. 
(SHRM Online)   

Employers Urged to Find New Ways to Address Workers' Mental Health 

An estimated 8 in 10 workers with a mental health condition don't get treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with it, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a result, the pressure is growing on employers to adopt better strategies for dealing with mental health. 
(Kaiser Health News)  

Mental Health 

Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and other mental health impairments can rise to the level of disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act that requires employers to make accommodations for workers with such conditions.

This resource center can help employers understand their obligations and address their workers' mental health.
(SHRM Resource Spotlight)





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