This Social Worker Is Using Sports and Streetwear to Reach People

Illustrated Nike shoe

Social worker Liz Beecroft has created a way to combine her two passions — streetwear and mental health — to serve people who might not otherwise seek help.

After receiving her Master’s from New York University, Beecroft started working as a family therapist, providing in-home therapy and later cognitive behavioral therapy. She loved her work, but because of the nature of working with clients experiencing trauma, she needed a creative outlet.

Beecroft’s fiancé, who is a photographer, suggested she start taking photographs of her impressive sneaker collection and love of style as a way to express herself.

Now she’s found a way to integrate her love for streetwear and sneakers with her passion for mental health and is reaching traditionally underserved communities in the process.

Beecroft grew up playing basketball, which is how she developed an interest in sneakers. When she went away for basketball camps, though, she struggled with homesickness.

“I couldn't be away for a weekend without having panic attacks and meltdowns without having to call my parents or have my parents stay in a hotel nearby just to make sure I was OK,” she said.

So she started going to therapy. Down the road, after realizing that her undergraduate biology major wasn’t for her, she decided to pursue psychology in hopes of helping others the same way she herself found help in therapy.

Beecroft pursued an education in psychology, and for the past four years, she’s worked with a nonprofit foster care organization in Brooklyn. In May of last year, Beecroft launched a private practice and online platform called MENTL.SESH, which offers psychotherapy, educational resources, and community.

“I'm trying to make it different from the standard private practice,” she said.

Beecroft works primarily with millennials and Gen Z, specifically creatives, athletes, and people within the fashion industry, which is an industry that doesn’t typically embrace mental wellness or therapy, she said. She also provides internal training for streetwear brands to help create mentally healthy workplace environments and appropriate marketing messaging when launching products related to mental health.

For example, in 2019 Beecroft collaborated with Nike to launch an Air Max 270 React called “In My Feels.” Proceeds from Beecroft's sneaker went to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Another collaboration she worked on was in May 2020 with streetwear brand The Hundreds. Together they created a shirt mimicking the “feelings charts” you might see in a therapist’s office using the company’s logo instead of traditional faces. All proceeds from this collaboration went to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Also last year she worked on a collaboration with Lebron James’ brand, UNKNWN, centered on “the sport of self-care,” which plays on the brand’s tagline, “the sport of fashion.”

“I want to show people creative ways that we can take care of our mental health through sneakers, through style, and really meet people where they're at,” Beecroft said. “Mental health doesn't always have to be clinical and stuffy. I have knowledge of sneakers and sports, so I’m trying to be creative in the delivery of the messaging. It's going to reach so many people that aren't typically served, which I think is really important.”

Beecroft said she’s hopeful to see the increasing openness about mental health online and within industries that don’t typically speak on the topic.

“It's really cool to see providers and brands breaking out of a cookie cutter approach to what mental health treatment should be,” Beecroft said. “We're all complex and unique individuals, and what might work for someone might not work for someone else. Having a range of options for people to choose how they want to take care of their mental health can only improve access.”

Article Details

March 31, 2021 5:00 PM
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