It’s easy to let the struggles of city life get you down, but for all the delayed subways, smelly cabs, and bad dates New York City will throw at you, it will offer just as many, if not more, uplifting and positive experiences: it’s all a matter of perspective. Brittany Butts, a psychotherapist based in Brooklyn, wants to help New Yorkers, and everyone for that matter, look on the bright side. Recognizing the need to erase the stigma of mental health issues and inspired by the artistic vibrancy of New York City, Butts took to social media to create the Instagram account @therapist_brittany.

On her account, Butts post photographs of street art found near her office and on her walks around Brooklyn. The photographs are accompanied by captions that offer mental health tips and remind followers to be sympathetic to their own mental health needs, as well as the struggles of those around them. Butts explains, “The idea to incorporate street art came about due to the location of where I work and my love of New York City. Street art is a beautiful and accessible medium for social and political change, especially in New York City, and many sociopolitical topics can be directly related to mental health.”

Most of the pieces featured on her account are from the Bushwick Collective, a non-profit organization and outdoor street gallery featuring artists from all over the world. Butt’s office building is part of the collective’s gallery, so she didn’t have to go far for inspiration: “The day after I started the account, I was walking to get coffee and realized that I could interpret these really cool works of street art from a mental health lens to reach a broader audience and share amazing New York City in the process.”

Psychotherapist Brittany Butts in front of street art by @vexta  in Williamsburg

Butts, a native Long Islander, became a licensed Psychotherapist in 2016. She started her career at a non-profit mental health housing organization in New York City and, in 2017, joined Jamron Counseling, a private practice in Brooklyn with a presence in Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. “Initially, I just wanted to create an Instagram account to branch off of Jamron Counseling’s account,” Butts says of @therapist_brittany’s inception. “Almost immediately after I started it, I felt compelled to really utilize the account in a way that addressed mental health in a digestible and relatable way. It felt like there was finally a space to incorporate my love of mental health, art and culture as well as my interest in photography creatively that I hadn’t found before.”

Post from @therapist_brittany featuring street art by @sonni in Bushwick

Butts acknowledges that social media often “plays to our genetic instincts…to compare, evaluate, judge, critique and assess ourselves and others,” but wants her followers to remember “that we only see what people are consciously choosing to share, therefore reality will likely be skewed.” Butts aims for her account to be a positive online space that serves as a source of acceptance and community, where thoughts and opinions can be shared by individuals who may otherwise not be able to. She hopes that her followers will try the tips and suggestions she offers and “take a moment to notice what is going on in their lives and see in what small ways they can act to make whatever changes they deem necessary.”

The most important lesson Butts hopes visitors to her account will take away is that part of the human experience includes battles with mental health. “It is so important, as a result, to not stigmatize or cast judgment on individuals struggling with mental health issues or the world of mental health in general because it is a part of being a person,” she says.

Street art in Williamsburg used as a background for a quote, Image via @therapist_brittany

Sharing her passion for New York City and mental health has also led Butts herself to become more aware of her surroundings: “I plan to continue to explore this city, now with more purpose and eyes open even wider, to take in all of the beauty it gives us and hopefully share it in a mental health driven way with my followers on Instagram.”

You can follow Brittany Butts on Instagram @therapist_brittany.

Next, check out Not to Miss Outdoor Art Installations This June and read about The Mural Arts Project That Uses Street Art to Start Conversations about Mental Illness.