Our Mission

 

Letters to Strangers (L2S) is the largest global youth-run nonprofit seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment, particularly for youth*.

*We welcome anyone outside of this arbitrary definition as long as their affiliated site pledges to be a safe haven for youth and includes youth members

But don't just hear it from us - see what Camila Cabello has to say about our story. 

Camila Cabello is a singer, songwriter, humanitarian, and L'Oreal Paris Spokesperson who recorded this for the L'Oréal ParisWomen of Worth 2020 NBC Primetime Special!

Our Motto

 

We want mental health made personal, because each person deserves to be treated as the individual they are. No one's identity should be buried beneath statistics. Indeed: often there is nothing greater than a person-to-person human connection. 

Our Work

 

We achieve our mission with a youth-run team in three main ways:

Letter-Writing

Our chapters (usually student clubs on campuses) write anonymous, heartfelt letters that aim to share their vulnerabilities and offer support for those who are fighting through difficult times. These letters are distributed either within Chapters, to other Chapters, or to community organizations called partner sites. We believe that writing is humanity distilled into ink. Individuals unaffiliated with our network can submit and exchange letters via our free, public online platform here

Peer Education

 We partner with schools and other mental health organizations to provide training and talks for youth around the world. We also facilitate our own unique youth-for-youth educational mental health module (check out our guidebook for free here) + teachers' curricum handbook designed and researched in-house and delivered to thousands of students a year in addition to interested peer listeners at our chapters. In addition, we run peer support resources like the first pan-African mental health hotline out of our Liberia office. 

Policy-Based Advocacy

We stay updated on current mental health-related policies and issues. Our chapters work with administrators to foster changes in the mental health dialogue and system at their institutions, such as bringing in mental health professionals to campus for the first time or creating a history-making student-run mental health task force. We also run annual scholarships for mental health higher education and healthcare access. On a broader level, we sometimes engage in letter-writing campaigns, in-person meetings, and advocacy events  to urge officials to take action on mental health awareness and treatment reform. 

Our IMPACT

 
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Since Letters to Strangers began in 2013, we've impacted over 50,000 people worldwide and have expanded to six continents, now impacting over 35,000 people directly every year. In the past, we've worked with food insecurity, physical debilitation, and education by donating $20,000+ worth of organic food and raising money for disaster relief in Nepal as well as supporting children's education in Niger. We look forward to continuing our efforts on supporting these areas of global need, as they are all related in one way or another to mental health. However, in 2016, we regrouped our focus to prioritize advocacy for mental health. Therefore, mental health is now our #1 priority so we may make the most change we can in an effective and pragmatic manner. We have since been featured on or by The White House, MTV, Forbes, Harper's BazaarShawn Mendes & his foundation, Lady Gaga & Born This Way Foundation, the Smithsonian, YouTube Originals and Onyx Family, NowThisL'Oréal Paris, NBC, Princess Diana Award, NPR/WNYCO, The Oprah Magazine, NAMI, DoSomething.org, Viacom, TEDx, Adobe, Unilever, Vice, Yahoo, Mental Health America, Child Mind Institute, Project UROK, StudentVoice, We Are Family Foundation, Made of Millions, etc.

 

To learn more about our impact, check out our most recent annual report by clicking the PDF icon!

Our STORY

Our Story

Diana Chao founded Letters to Strangers in 2013 after suffering from mental illness and feeling paralyzingly alone. The first chapter began in southern California.