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Letter exchange program helps people struggling with mental health

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 1:34 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Humanities Nebraska is in its second round of a letter exchange program called “Dear Stranger.” The program connects strangers from different parts of Nebraska through handwritten or typed letters.

“With technology, we have kind of lost the touch of writing letters with each other,” said Associate Director of Humanities Nebraska Mary Yager. “This brings the idea back so people can communicate thoughtfully with one another.”

During the global health pandemic, interactions with people have been limited which could affect some people psychologically.

“The lack of human interaction is causing people to be more depressed and anxious,” said Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner Jeanie Shimmin. ”Mental health gets worse without human interaction. We need to connect with people to stay mentally healthy.”

“Dear Stranger” builds connections that may have been lost.

People write about various topics in their letters based on the prompt of the theme provided. Humanities Nebraska workers and volunteers screen each letter and match the letter with a counterpart from another part of the state.

“The idea is that, although we don’t know each other very well or have the same values or beliefs, there is something we can talk and connect about to make for a better community,” said Yager.

The first exchange is fully anonymous. Afterward, each participant may provide contact information or remain anonymous.

For anyone interested in joining the program, the next prompt for letters is place. Each writer is encouraged to explore the prompt and address it in any way they chose.

Participants should send their letters to Humanities Nebraska along with a signed participation form, available at humanitiesnebraska.org. Letters should be addressed to Dear Stranger, c/o Humanities Nebraska, 215 Centennial Mall South Suite 330, Lincoln, NE, 68508.

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