Starbucks Canada’s Comprehensive Mental Health Initiative: A Timeline

The mental health crisis is incredibly complex with one in five Canadians* personally experiencing a mental health problem in any given year. Mental health can affect Starbucks partners (employees) in their personal lives, in their stores, and in the neighbourhoods we serve, which is why the company is committed to eliminating the stigma and providing ongoing mental health resources and support. 

Partner care has always been at the core of Starbucks. The company is constantly listening to partner feedback to inform how it will enhance the innovative benefits it offers to support them and their families. Starbucks wants to ensure that every partner, in every store, knows how and where to seek help for themselves and others.

Mental health is a fundamental part of our humanity, and Starbucks is committed to providing its partners with resources that are truly relevant to their needs. 

Read on to learn more about Starbucks mental health initiatives. 


A reimagined mental health care benefit


LifeWorks, a leading digital wellness platform and app, becomes available to all 24,000 Canadian partners and their family members in August, offering access to critical support services, such as uncapped short-term 24/7 counselling sessions and financial advice. 

The reimagined mental health benefit is more accessible, robust and tailored to partners specific needs than ever before. Going beyond the traditional Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, such as counselling, referrals, and advice, LifeWorks provides a more comprehensive mental, financial, physical and lifestyle health resource for all partners, including those working fewer than 20-hours a week who may not be eligible for benefits. 

Dedicated mental health training

In July, Starbucks invests in mental health training for store managers in Canada and the U.S. Developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health and inspired by Mental Health First Aid, the program teaches partners the skills to listen for, recognize and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use. 

This training equips Starbucks leaders with the tools and knowledge to guide their teams at any stage of a mental health crisis. This additional in-store support also means retail partners can feel comfortable talking to their leaders about their mental health challenges and be able to easily find resources specific to their needs.

A mindful investment 

A group of Starbucks partners (employees) are seen smiling at the camera.

In January, Starbucks adds the meditation app Headspace to its suite of comprehensive benefits and resources to support its partners. All Canadian partners — as well as over 200,000 partners in North American stores and offices — receive a subscription. Partners can sign up and get access to hundreds of themed sessions and easy guided meditations on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety. 

Research shows many mental health-related benefits of meditation. With this powerful tool, partners will be able to improve their overall well-being in a long-lasting, positive way.

Expanding coverage

Starbucks $5,000 per year mental health benefit includes an even greater list of practitioners this year. This includes psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists, guidance counsellors, marriage counsellors, and couple and family therapists. 


Declaring mental health matters

Chicago leadership experience

Starbucks lays out its comprehensive mental health initiative at a Chicago leadership event in September, which brings together 12,000 store managers and field leaders from Canada and the U.S. “Together, we’re on a mission to take a stand, help break the stigma, and get even more partners and their family the support they need,” Starbucks chief partner officer, Lucy Helm said.

Continuing the conversation

The leadership event sparks conversations about mental well-being and emotional health. Partners begin sharing dialogue, feedback and ideas regarding mental health and well-being in the company’s Mental Health Matters online forum, with nearly 5,000 partners contributing.

Supporting Starbucks leaders

In partnership with mental health experts, Starbucks creates a pocketbook resource to provide Starbucks leaders with resources to support mental health conversations with their partners. The guide also directs leaders on how to support a partner who is having a mental health crisis.


Third Place Training

The Third Place Development Series training rolls out to partners in Canada and the U.S. The training focuses on creating a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment in Starbucks stores and corporate offices, and tackles topics such as loneliness, vulnerability, mindful decision making, building resiliency, and the power of small acts and conversation to strengthen human connection. 


Starbucks Canada launches an unprecedented $5,000 per year mental health benefit for all eligible employees, who work a minimum of 20 hours per week, and their dependents. This represents among the highest mental health benefits offered at any company in Canada across all industries. Most employer support for mental health covers the cost of three to four counselling sessions without recovery or mitigation, whereas a $5,000 benefit will allow for longer-term treatment. 


Starbucks offers full extended health and dental care benefits to eligible full and part-time partners, including a mental health benefit.

*Source: Canadian Mental Health Association

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