Strengthening your Mental Wellbeing: Starbucks partners share why it is important to focus on our mental and emotional health


Monday 9 May marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week – an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health and wellbeing. We are delighted to be supporting the charity, Mental Health Foundation, which organised this week.

At Starbucks, we recognise the importance of mental wellbeing in bringing our mission and values to life, inspiring and nurturing the human spirit, and how a cup of coffee can provide the perfect opportunity to connect and listen. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Loneliness’.

Loneliness affects millions of people every year and is a key driver of poor mental health. The global pandemic further accelerated the issue, with many people isolated from friends and family. With a focus on raising awareness and continuing to break the stigma regarding wellbeing and mental health, our green apron partners across the UK stores will be showing their support for Mental Health Awareness Week by wearing green mental health badges and accompanying in-store messaging.  We recognise that overcoming loneliness and its impact on mental health cannot be achieved by the individual action of people alone, and we hope that by raising awareness we can support our partners and our communities.

Jonny Jacobs, a sponsor of the Wellbeing Blend network, which is the Partner Network focusing on supporting everyone’s wellbeing, commented “as someone who has suffered from loneliness when growing up, I am pleased that across the nation we are elevating the importance of this conversation. It is truly humbling seeing our Wellbeing Blend movement support our teams, and the stories below are testament to our inspiring partners who volunteer their time to support others.”

Now, more than ever, we know how important a sense of belonging and deep human connection is to us. This Mental Health Awareness Week, join us in meeting a few of our EMEA partners who share the value of our personal wellbeing!


Lea Ghanem

A bit about your role in the business and how long you’ve been a partner

“I am the senior manager for planning and S&OP at Starbucks across all Ambient and Store Development items. I have been a Starbucks partner for two and a half years.

“I work with my amazing team, and I love that our job is to predict the future: working with all our markets to estimate and advise on future forecasts and liaising with the suppliers to ensure the stock is produced and available when every market and store needs it.”

Why did you get involved with Wellbeing Blend/become a Mental Health First Aider/Mental Health Ally at work, and what are you most proud of with wellbeing at Starbucks?

“Through my past experiences, I have come to realise how strong mental health can get you through almost anything. But I have also seen how fragile that strength is. Your wellbeing and your mental health are something we should take care of every day. Having someone to speak to, without any stigma, can make a huge difference and everyone deserves that chance. I am really proud of the journey we’ve been through in the past year and the fact that it feels we have broken down a barrier about open conversations on Mental Health in the organization.”

What do you do to look after your wellbeing?

“My morning routine is a key part of my wellbeing. I usually wake up 2 hours before I need to get to work. I do some reading, call my parents who live in Lebanon, do some exercise, and have a proper breakfast with my husband.”

“Sports and exercising are essential ways in which I look after my wellbeing. I love that moment when you finish exercising and feel just so relaxed and mindful (and very sweaty of course).”

Is there anyone you are inspired by in relation to your wellbeing? “I have been impressed by all the partners that have shared their stories with me as part of our journey in the Wellbeing Blend. It made me realise that wellbeing is everywhere, every day. We are surrounded by so many powerful stories, partners who have suffered hard and were able to confront their situation, get the help they needed, kept on going, and now want to share back and help others. I am just so proud of each and every one of them and feel so privileged that our paths have crossed.”

Francesca Brighton

A bit about your role in the business and how long you’ve been a partner:

“I am the manager for food in EMEA and I have been a partner for nearly 3 years. Because food is decentralised, instead of developing the food products you see on shelves in our stores across we region, we as an EMEA food team set the strategic vision for food at Starbucks, whilst also inspiring and supporting our licensees in delivering that vision.”

Why did you get involved with Wellbeing Blend and what are you most proud of with wellbeing at Starbucks?

“I got involved because I fiercely believe that we need to give our mental health more airtime & more respect. I am so proud of how far we have come in a short time – creating a network, celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week et cetera. However, mostly it feels as though we have shifted the dial as a business and that mental health is now spoken about way more and way more openly in our day-to-day lives at Starbucks.”

Is there anyone you are inspired by in relation to your wellbeing?

“An unusual response perhaps but my younger self – the seven-year-old me who laughed at the little things, found a bit of fun in everything – had a great balance of work and play, talking to anyone without an ounce of self-consciousness. I think if all adults lived their lives more as children live theirs, a lot of our wellbeing struggles would go away.”

Any recommendations of books, videos, movies etc. in relation to wellbeing & mental health? TV?:

“Couples Therapy on BBC – a fascinating insight into relationships behind closed doors that serves as a good reminder that relationships thrive on good communication. This show is a great way to upskill yourself on how to articulate how you might be feeling.”

Book: “How to Do You by Jacqueline Hirst – she retaught me to live after anorexia and I rely on her wisdom every single day.  Alternatively, I am currently really enjoying ‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb – a clever mix of non-fiction written in a fictional style.”

Music: “Storm in My Head by Rhys Lewis – the most beautiful lyrical description of mental health I’m yet to hear.”

Movie: “Beautiful Boy – but only if you’re feeling mentally resilient as it’s a heart-wrenching watch.”

Charlie MacDonald

A bit about your role in the business and how long you’ve been a partner:

“I joined the company in September 2002, so I am currently in my 21st year as a partner with Starbucks. In that time, I have seen many changes in how the company operates and I like to think that my team has contributed in a small way to the success that continues to see the Glasgow district as one of the companies’ UK success stories.”

Why did you get involved with Wellbeing Blend/become a Mental Health First Aider/ Mental Health Ally at work, and what are you most proud of with wellbeing at Starbucks?

“I wanted to get involved in the Wellbeing Blend because I know from my own experience how important good mental health is to personal growth, in both your private and working life. As the two are so intertwined, it is my hope that by being part of this team we can create an environment within Starbucks UK, where we all are able to speak about mental health without prejudice, judgment, or embarrassment. 

“I hope that as a group, by showing compassion and understanding for others experiencing mental health challenges, we are not just able to help in some small way, but also gain a greater understanding of the many different things, that can affect mental health.”

“What I am most proud of with wellbeing at Starbucks is the small things we have done as a store over the last 6 years in trying to create that environment. It is always ongoing, but it has made some if even a little difference to my partners’ wellbeing and retention for the business over the years.”

What do you do to look after your wellbeing?

“Take my medication, keep active by cycling to work every day come rain or shine (you get used to it and sometimes it’s even nice), the love, companionship, and responsibility of looking after Hector (my dog), my daily yoga practice (even if it’s just a stretch and a few sun salutations to get the body energised or a wee yin stretch in the evening to try and relax but just embracing the power of the breath is helpful in itself.), meditation and if all else fails, eat ice cream.”

Is there anyone you are inspired by in relation to your wellbeing?

“Ohad Naharin, an Israeli dancer/choreographer who has overcome physical injury to create a dance movement call Gaga (yes Gaga!) that relies on listening to the body, and expressing through movement, not just the highly emotionally charged work he creates (if contemporary dance is your thing), but also has for ordinary people like me (two left feet) who can’t dance a Gaga people movement where anyone from children to old men and women can participate. It has also become known for its mental health benefits and in some instances has helped people with PTSD. Live classes are few and far between here in the UK, but you can participate online. I have been lucky enough to have participated in both. If you are curious, watch the documentary/film ‘Mr. Gaga’. If you do, I hope it inspires you too.”

Charlotte Nielsen

A bit about your role in the business and how long you’ve been a partner.

“I have been a store manager for 15 years with Starbucks. I have worked in a lot of different stores and had the opportunity to help open Starbucks in a few countries.”

Why did you get involved with Wellbeing Blend/become a Mental Health First Aider/ Mental Health Ally at work, and what are you most proud of with wellbeing at Starbucks?

“I got involved with the mental health ally program because the wellbeing of my partners and peers is really important to me, looking after each other’s wellbeing should be the number one priority in a business or society and I believe if we make this a priority we grow and become a better company but also better humans.”

“We will only ever succeed if we put people first in everything we do and I think by looking after each other’s mental health we are doing just that!”

What do you do to look after your wellbeing?

“I have started to put myself first more often and speaking up when I feel overwhelmed. I really don’t like letting people down or not showing up, but for many years I confused that with me doing everything for everyone and never saying no. I still struggle with this, but I am becoming so much better at telling people I have enough on.”

“But the most important thing is to actually talk about how I feel, years ago, I would never have spoken about anxiety, but now I do, and it takes away so much of the pressure – I hope it also takes away the stigma around it if we all speak up.”

Any recommendations of books, videos, movies etc. in relation to wellbeing & mental health?

“Mental health-wise, the book that really had a fundamental impact on me is Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It really made me question the way I think in a very healthy way, and I recommend it to everyone, it makes you really start appreciating what you have and stop regretting choices you might have previously. I also recommend his other book The Comfort Book.”

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