‘One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.’
This statistic, from Mind, illustrates the importance of supporting those who are struggling with their mental health. This message is ever more significant, in current times, where we have witnessed and experienced the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are more isolated than ever. Therefore, initiatives such as Letters to A Loved Stranger which provide people with kindness and support are ever more vital. I spoke to Amber, the founder of Letters to A Loved Stranger, to find out more about the initiative that delivers hope to those that may feel down or alone, through the compassion of strangers.
Can you tell me a bit about the concept of Letters To A Loved Stranger?
Letters to a Loved Stranger is all about kindness, mental health awareness, and the magic of handwritten letters. I wanted to create a little corner of the internet filled with beautiful handwritten letters, where completely anonymous strangers write words of support, advice, and love. People write their letters and post them to me… then I transcribe them, photograph them, and upload them onto our social media each week.
When did you start the project and what was your reason/ reasons for starting it?
I started the project in May 2020, but it is an idea I’ve had for years!
It was a combination of having a bit more time during lockdown, and being in recovery from a bout of Covid, that made me just go for it and launch it.
What is your main aim and vision for Letters to a Loved Stranger?
My main aim is to make people feel loved and not alone, especially when they are feeling low, or don’t have a wide support network. I wanted to show the capacity of humans to be kind, as sometimes the world – particularly the online world – doesn’t feel all that kind.
Building up this collection of letters, each written by a kind soul somewhere, is a really amazing process. When the letters arrive in the post, they always make me feel so emotional!
And seeing peoples’ reactions is the best part; when they save or share the letters online each week or send me messages saying how meaningful a particular letter was to them.
Mental health is complex and people deal with things differently but do you have any general advice or tips for people who may be struggling?
I think the message I try to push on Letters to a Loved Stranger is about being kind to yourself. Caring for yourself even in tiny ways is so powerful and letting yourself off when things don’t go to plan. I think we can be so hard on ourselves, and negative self-talk can really get you down – we are often far harsher critics to ourselves than we would be to others.
There are small steps we can all take to look after our mental wellbeing like getting more sleep, a daily dose of fresh air, and doing activities that make us feel good or help us to manage stress.
If you’re feeling low, my advice will always always be to reach out and tell somebody… a friend, the crisis textline, your GP. You deserve support, and don’t have to try and navigate this alone.
In the same way, how can we help/support those who might be struggling with their mental health or having a tough time?
Check in on those around you and ask them twice! We all have a tendency to say “I’m fine” but you just might be the only person who asks a second time…
Then really listen. Be a space where that person can vent! You don’t have to fix whatever they are going through, just focus on really listening.
When the moment comes, try to encourage them to seek help and signpost them to trusted places for support. Remember that you just being their friend is really valuable too.
Are there any future plans for Letters To A Loved Stranger?
So many future plans! At the moment I’m just blown away by the letters, and the words people write- and how many people want to get involved. I’m posting out lots of letters kits, and love that community groups and mental health support groups are now contacting me to join in too! I hope the community continues to grow and these beautiful letters reach more and more people.
How can people get involved with the project?
Follow the Instagram page www.instagram.com/Letterstoalovedstranger and like, comment, or share with your friends! If you would like to write a letter, then we would love to have your words… Simply drop us a DM with your address, and we will get a writing kit sent out to you ♡
In a world where it is easy to focus on the negativity, Letters to A Loved Stranger is a much-needed concept that shines a positive light and shows just how powerful the kindness of strangers can be. Sometimes, when we are feeling low or alone, all we need is a kind word, to get us through the day and Letters to a Loved Stranger is helping people do just that.