My parents, who grew in rural Yugoslavia spoke of sending letters all the time to loved ones when they were young. They sent letters to friends who had gone abroad, letters to family who lived far away, and what was most touching of all, love letters to each other.
There was something truly uplifting about the stories they would share and the thought of someone taking the time to send their loved one a handwritten note was special. Sure, it's not like they had any other choice, but it still spoke of thoughtfulness and compassion, of elegance and class.
Sending letters is how they connected, and how they checked in on each other's mental health. "There was a great joy in receiving a letter,” my parents explained. "You knew they were penned with care and affection, so it would provide an unexpected bright spot to your day. Not to mention the therapeutic act of replying.”
And my parents aren't alone. As mental health is more important now than ever, people are finding new ways to connect. Letter writing is a good way to check on loved ones, stay busy, and boost mental health. And it was only when I received my first one that it truly hit home.
My now-husband, who was 19 at the time, had enlisted in the Australian Army. He had begun his initial training - a 3-month long period in Sydney's Kapooka Training Centre - where phones were taken from recruits to avoid distraction. I, at the time, was travelling across Europe in my uni break with limited access to WIFI.
I don't know what made him write the first one - maybe it was seeing others do the same, I never asked. But I do know how it made me feel when it arrived, and it was electric.
We exchanged letters for the whole three-month period. We spoke of what we were seeing, how we felt, and what we were excited for. I had to let him know that his closest cousin's father had passed away, and while yes, it was heartbreaking, it was just so much easier for the both of us putting it in written words.
I have those letters to this day, and I'll never let them go. Every time he missed home, or was going through a tough time, he re-read them, again and again. They were how we stayed connected, and stayed strong through hardship. They were key to our mental health, something we realised was more important than anything else in that moment.
So, the next time you have a friend going through a hard time, or just want to reach out and check in - write a letter.
You can head to your nearest Post Office or online, grab some stamps - or even better, some of their ‘When we connect, we feel better stamps’, which make it easier to connect by encouraging you to purchase two stamps (one to go on your envelope, and the other to go in it) so the recipient can easily write back - and send it just like that. Just think of how you'd feel receiving one.
Staying connected with loved ones is incredibly important for their (and your) mental health. Australia Post has already helped their partner Beyond Blue by delivering mental health information to a staggering 1.4 million households since 2019, equipping Aussies with information and resources to tackle hard days. Because when we connect, we feel better.
Australia Post knows that when we connect, we feel better. Go to Auspost.com.au/mentalhealth to learn more about their commitment to mental health.
Beyond Blue provides free information, advice and support to help all people in Australia achieve their best possible mental health. For more information, visit beyondblue.org.au