The Power of Handwritten Letters: Letters Against Depression

By: Wendy Zhuo and Cordelia Ding

It’s 6 PM on a Friday, and I have one last activity to look forward to before my weekend officially starts: Letters Against Depression. I briskly make my way to Cascadilla Hall where I know friendly faces will be waiting in the 2nd-floor lounge, scrolling and pausing through the brief stories written by the soon-to-be recipients of our letters.

For the past two years now, Letters Against Depression (LAD) has continued to be my favorite service event in APO.  Maybe it’s because there’s something soothing about the gentle scratching of pens and pencils on paper, as brothers and pledges alike write letters the old-fashioned way, or the fact that I always look forward to the bubbly conversations that pop up around the long table in Casc as we ask each other about our week and catch each other up on our busy and hectic lives. Then, there’s that silence that comes from when people are concentrating on their letters, carefully selecting words and drawing little doodles that are full of hope in bringing unexpected joy to the readers of our letters.

You know how they say, giving is better than receiving? This service event (like most events in APO) really embodies the power of this statement. Furthermore, it serves as a personal reminder every week that taking care of mental health is extremely important. Writing these letters is not only an unexpected way to decompress after a hard week but an awesome way to start my weekend off on a positive note. |Wendy|

For those unfamiliar with LAD, Letters Against Depression is a weekly service event that allows APO volunteers to write handwritten letters to people who have submitted their stories through an online portal. LAD is a way for people to come together in a safe and brave space that encourages mental health well-being. LAD brings together APO volunteers and gives them a chance to rewind after a long week with some therapeutic letter writing.

Of course, writing these letters is no easy task.

Some of the stories that are shared on the portal are deep, some contain much sorrow and struggle, some are hard to swallow. The stories are all human, after all. That being said, there is something so special about a handwritten letter, and the fact that people are coming together to write these meaningful and heartwarming letters is so special. Robert, the CEO of Letters Against Depression makes sure that volunteers are appreciated – he personally gives feedback on all of the letters that volunteers write! Come by Letters for an hour and half of truly impactful service event that supports a wonderful mission: to encourage mental health wellbeing and to break the stigma around talking about mental health. |Cordelia|