Letters to Strangers (L2S) is a global youth-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment for youth aged 13 to 24*.
*We welcome anyone outside of this age range as long as their affiliated site pledges to be a safe haven for youth and includes youth members
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.
We achieve our mission with a youth-run team in three main ways:
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, and we want the human connection to foster empathy one letter at a time.
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) designed and researched in-house and delivered to thousands of students a year in addition to interested peer listeners at our chapters.
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. 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.
Since Letters to Strangers began in 2013, we've impacted over 35,000 people worldwide and have expanded to six continents. 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, Africa. 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 will now remain 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 Princess Diana Award, O, The Oprah Magazine, NAMI, DoSomething.org, Viacom, TEDx, Adobe, Unilever, Vice, Mental Health America, Child Mind Institute, Project UROK, StudentVoice, We Are Family Foundation, Sin(theta) Magazine, Made of Millions, ChangemakeHers, etc.