You've got mail

Updated: Aug 02, 2020, 08:05 IST | Jane Borges | Mumbai

A trio of 19-year-olds are encouraging you to write anonymous letters to strangers to help improve your mental well-being

When was the last time you poured out your feelings to a stranger, and that too, in a letter? In the age of speed-dating, where meaningful friendships—let alone relationships—have become a rarity, this might seem odd. Not to Aarushi Kataria, Nayomi Dave and Vaishnavi Vishwanath. In November last year, the trio launched the Mumbai chapter of Letters to Strangers (L2S), a global youth-run non-profit seeking to destigmatise mental illness, by encouraging sharing stories and feelings through a nameless letter. The idea, says Kataria, is to provide unbiased and empathetic listeners to help improve your mental health.

"I learnt about L2S through a friend. I have found solace in letters on really bad days, and thought it would be an interesting way to help others," says Kataria, a student of economics and political science at Ashoka University in Haryana.

Aarushi Kataria (left) and Vaishnavi Vishwanath
Aarushi Kataria (left) and Vaishnavi Vishwanath

The response, she says, was overwhelming. "Within the first week of launching, we had over a hundred sign-ups. Initially, we thought that only half of them would participate, because writing a letter does require investing time and thought. But nearly 80 per cent of them, did go ahead and share letters," recalls Kataria.

To participate, one has to simply log in to the website, and sign-up with L2S, by answering a set of basic questions. "We have a team that follows a psychological model to pair up people. We then send an email to each person, with their partner's code and pseudonym, along with their interests," adds Kataria. "After the letter is written, it is shared with us. We scan it, to ensure that it carries no personal details or trigger warnings."

The letters don't have to follow a particular theme. "You could discuss serious subjects, or simply talk about how your day went. But, if we sense that the participant needs extra help, we do put them in touch with a therapist."

To register: www.l2sbombay.com/

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