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Cleveland letter project helps people dealing with anxiety, stress, trauma and more

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 23:28:40-04

CLEVELAND — We’ve spoken a lot about mental health during the coronavirus pandemic — and how important it can be to speak to a professional or seek help. But we know that’s not a luxury everyone can afford.

Now, one woman’s mission to share is helping our friends and neighbors rebound in a different way.

What started as a simple project — a letter answering the question, ‘What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?’ — is growing day by day in Northeast Ohio.

“There are cheerleaders all throughout the community who want you to succeed, who don’t want you to give up,” said Allison Meyer, the founder of Never, Ever Give Up CLE project. “There’s this anonymous network of letters and stories throughout Northeast Ohio.”

Meyer started Never Give Up CLE in 2018, as a way to cope with the grief from her mother’s death.

Since then, she’s received hundreds of handwritten letters from people — sharing their stories and supporting one another.

“When you keep this stuff to yourself, it becomes really, really heavy,” Meyer said. “And you have to carry all of that weight all by yourself. But when you write, when you share, when you talk about it, you reach out to people in your community to help you carry that and the load gets lighter.”

Meyer said its clear from the letters she receives that the pandemic has complicated life for so many — mental health at the forefront.

Letters speaking of anxiety and depression, of horrible experiences before coronavirus and numerous letters thanking our healthcare workers.

You can submit letters of hardships and of hope online, on Instagram, or by slipping them into a bright yellow mailbox. It moves around Northeast Ohio, but for now, for the summer, it’ll call University Circle home.

“We’re just trying to give access to people to share that because not everybody can go to therapy, not everybody has somebody in their life that they can share this with. But if you write to the project, then you’ll be seen, you’ll be heard and you’ll be supported.”

Studies have shown journaling can help with stress and anxiety. Don't worry about being neat, or grammatically correct -- just take some time for yourself and jot your feelings down on paper and see if it helps.

Never Give Up CLE has been so successful that the letters are being published into a book, launching this year.

All proceeds will go toward funding mental health organizations in the Cleveland area.