This post was written by Mountain View student Amelia Orozco. Stay tuned to hear more from her throughout the semester.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been indulging in the fact that I no longer have college work to tend to. Aside from working my day job, I’ve been looking for ways to give back to the community. Luckily, my little sister recently introduced me to an organization called Letters Against Depression (LAD). It is a nonprofit organization that provides hope and support through letter writing for those struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. It sends the message that we are never alone when battling our own afflictions and that there are people willing to help. It is a great outlet that provides support for those in need.
How does it work?
People across the globe request letters on LAD’s website by providing information about their story. In return, volunteers can scroll through the requests and claim someone they would like to write to. Having similar experiences makes for a great supportive letter because of a more personal connection between the writer and requester. It gives the requesters the opportunity to hear from someone that has gone through the same struggles and has overcome them. However, even if you’re someone who hasn’t personally struggled with mental illness, you can always write encouraging letters!
I personally find that writing is a very enriching tool so this was a perfect opportunity for both myself and the person I am writing to. So far, I have been able to write two letters that have been very gratifying and a great inspiration to my daily life. Because I also struggle with depression, I feel that the writing process helps me open myself up more and teaches me how to cope with my own battles while subsequently helping another person.
What do I need to do to become a volunteer?
It is a very easy process! Volunteers can sign up by simply filling out the form and creating an account. Before being able to start writing letters, you need to wait for an approval email from the founder (for me, this took less than a day to go through). It’ll contain any following steps and basic knowledge of the volunteer’s duties and what to expect. From there, you can read through different stories, narrow your search for specific keywords (e.g. if you want to write to someone who deals with anxiety), and find someone to write to. All letters are handwritten and at least 2-4 pages long, depending on what volunteer position you choose. Keep in mind that there will always be someone you can relate to — there are people of all ages from places like the United Kingdom to Pakistan that have a different story to tell; you can be that one person to make a difference in one of their lives.
If this seems intriguing, I encourage you to sign up for one of the various positions to help support LAD’s mission. Not only will you be making a positive impact in other people’s lives, but you can also put your volunteer work on your resume. Regardless of if you’re good with words or cannot draw (there’s an artwork option rather than letter writing), you can help in different ways. There are donation options available and items for purchase via their online store. Even sharing the website link can help. And if you struggle with depression or any other mental illness, feel free to request a letter. Remember, none of us are truly alone and we all matter.
(All information courtesy of LAD.)
Thank you for helping us learn more about Letters Against Depression, Amelia.
Readers: If you are a DCCCD student who is feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, you can also contact the counseling center at your college to seek help from one of our professional counselors. Also, be sure to check out some posts from our other student bloggers.