Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced on Monday an added benefit for its cafe employees and their eligible family members. The coffee giant will now provide up to 20 therapy sessions per year as part of an expanded mental health initiative.
The move, having been in the works for months, wasn't spurred by increasing anxiety around the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Still, it was announced in the same week as Starbucks' new at-home pay benefit for employees who decide to self-quarantine because of sickness or potential exposure.
The restaurant chain has also just announced that its U.S. stores are moving to a "to-go" operating model that will limit social interactions overall. Many cafes located in high-traffic areas like malls and universities are already temporarily closed and those numbers could rise as the virus impacts different communities.
A Starbucks executive said in an interview with Fast Company that the company has been working to improve access to mental health tools for its employees. "We have a responsibility to continue to care for and support our Starbucks partners," he said. "They are the heartbeat of Starbucks."
The therapy program will launch on April 6 and will be available online and through in-person sessions.