Evidence that a Small Gesture Can Help
A small amount of effort in the area of social support may be very powerful.
It may benefit not only the recipient, but the giver.
What it's Like in Most Psychiatric Units:
"In psychiatric units, there is barely a card or any other reminder that the outside world cares" (here).
A study showed that patients in psychiatric units receive significantly fewer greeting cards than patients in other units. It was concluded that the stigma of mental illness extends to expressions of altruism (here).
More than 80% of people in psychiatric units surveyed said receiving a “get well soon” card would help their recovery (here).
A 2018 survey found that 81 percent considered a handwritten note more meaningful than digital correspondence (here).
And there are many that could be helped. As of 2014, there were over 170,000 residents in inpatient and other 24-hour residential treatment beds on any night in a variety of settings, including specialized public and private psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric inpatient, and licensed residential treatment units in general hospitals among other organizations (here).
Helping Prevent Suicides:
A study showed that the suicide rate for patients in the psychiatric unit after discharge is approximately 100 times greater than the general population during the first 3 months after discharge and that the patients admitted with suicidal thoughts or behaviors had rates of nearly 200 times the general population (here).
A study showed that regularly receiving letters from a caring person significantly reduces suicide rates for people at risk for committing suicide who have been discharged from a psychiatric unit. The letters expressed concern, care, and a desire to stay connected (here and here, and also here).
Help for the Recipient and Giver:
Under the helper theory principle, helping others is deemed absolutely essential to helping oneself (here).
Testimonials of Empathy and Compassion:
People have written about their experiences of both receiving cards when they are struggling with their mental health or sending them to friends, family and colleagues illustrating the power of a simple gesture (here).
A testimonial from our own ForLikeMinds Psych Ward Greeting Cards program experience:
"Receiving the get well cards from "ForLikeMinds" was a breath of inspiration! Our inpatient peers were very touched, both by the beautiful designs and by the messages of hope and recovery. Knowing that strangers -- some of them in recovery themselves took the time to send these heartfelt messages, gave them a feeling of support and sustenance. In fact, several of our peers decided to make their own cards to contribute to the "ForLikeMinds" program! We look forward to an ongoing connection with this wonderful outreach initiative."
Chaya Weinstein, Occupational Therapist, Payne Whitney (Psychiatric) Clinic, New York-Presbyterian