Arkansas State University

Letters to Strangers

National Day on Writing

October 20, 2021

Letters to Strangers aims to create empathy between people by encouraging us to share our vulnerabilities with each other in writing.

The website describes their mission like this:

"Letters to Strangers is a community of individuals working to destigmatize mental illnesses. Through the process of writing letters to strangers and receiving letters from strangers, we hope members can anonymously explore their vulnerabilities and insight with each other. We believe that we can create heartfelt connections and foster empathy, one letter at a time" (Chao).

Heartfelt connections with and empathy for each other matter now more than ever. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the rate of depression among US adults has tripled (Reinberg). College students in particular are reporting especially high levels of stress and anxiety this year. A survey of college students found that 91% felt that the pandemic had added to their stress and anxiety, and one student said, "This is the most anxious I've ever been, I think, in my entire life" (Ciechalski, Walters, and Kaufman).

By sharing your experience with other students, you can help all of us feel a little less alone.

Address your letter, "Dear Stranger," and sign it, "From a Stranger."

Some questions you might consider while you write your letter:

  1. What's making you most anxious, stressed, or sad lately?
  2. How are you keeping your spirits up?
  3. What are your hopes for the future?
  4. What has been your experience of 2020? What has happened to you? What have you learned?
  5. What do you wish someone would tell you?

All letters are anonymous. Please do not include your name or any identifying information about yourself. If your instructor needs evidence that you have written a letter, don't forget to screenshot the submission page as proof.

Works Cited:

Chao, Diana. "About." Letters to Strangers, 2020, https://www.letterstostrangers.org/.

Chiechalski, Suzanne, Shamar Walters and Sarah Kaufman. "College Students Brace for the 'Second Curve' of COVID-19&Its Mental Health Impact." NBC News, 30 August 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/college-students-brace-second-curve-covid-19-its-mental-health-n1238740.

Reinberg, Steven. "Rate of Depression Are Triple of Pre-COVID Levels." WebMD, 2 September 2020, https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200902/a-us-pandemic-of-depression-too-rates-are-triple-pre-covid-levels#1.