YOU’VE GOT MAIL: Handwritten letters bring some hope
ONE young woman is helping to address mental health issues on the Northern Rivers, one potentially lifesaving handwritten letter at a time.
After suffering from anxiety and depression since her teenage years, Abbie Williams said a positive from the experience, was becoming extremely passionate about mental health.
But it was seeing a similar project in the UK that sparked her to use her passion and kindness to make a difference to the world, and the Letters of Hope project was born.
If someone is experiencing mental health issues, they can email Ms Williams and she will hand write them a letter to brighten their day.
It is up to the person whether to confide in her within their email or not.
In two years, she has sent more than 1000 letters around the world.
"It's been quite a journey for me," Ms Williams said.
"I know when you are not in a good space it's easy to believe the world is full of people who don't really care. My aim with the project is to show people that someone out there does care and there is good in the world."
She said receiving positive responses from her letters made it all worthwhile, and in turn made her feel good.
"Recipients have framed my letters, kept them in a handbag or on a shelf to read daily," she said.
"I even once had someone reach out to me to tell me that on the day they received my letter, they were ready to take their own life," she said.
"They said the words within my letter stopped them."
While Ms Williams sends letters globally, she revealed at least 20 per cent of those letters were to people on the Northern Rivers.
"I post on the Facebook community group pages and I have such a huge response from the Byron Bay and Lismore areas … I have written a lot of my letters to those areas," the Gold Coast resident said.
"When I share a post in a group, I have been getting around 20 emails a week."
She said since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic began to impact different countries, letter requests had ramped up.
"People would be sensing a lack of control which is a huge factor in a person's mental health. Being isolated can make people more vulnerable to those feelings," she said.
"It makes me feel inspired to write more and more letters.
"I have also been leaving random letters for strangers when I go out to places saying 'open me if you are having a hard time'. I just want to try and give people a glimmer of hope during this time, and a reminder that it won't last forever."
If you would like a letter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need any support contact Lifeline at 131114.