Metropolitan YMCA Singapore: Journeying together for mental health

Date: 24 October 2023

By Ruth Toh

The Metropolitan YMCA Singapore (MYMCA), with its continual focus on youth and community engagement, recently held an annual youth symposium, YOUTH GOT IT: 1800-FRIENDSHIPS.

Following the success of the inaugural symposium on mental health at the workplace with our youths last year, the mental health-focused symposium this year sought to delve into the intricacies of friendships and their impact on our young generation today.

We saw a large turnout of 250 present at YGI 2023 over both days, participating in dialogues and workshops and forging purposeful connections.

Amid the evolving landscape of mental health awareness, young people today frequently grapple with the challenge of seeking professional assistance, often turning to their peers for advice, solace and understanding. This prompts a critical question: Are our current initiatives effectively addressing this multifaceted issue?

YOUTH GOT IT: 1800-FRIENDSHIPS has been positioned to address this inquiry head-on as we respond to the Community Wellbeing Pillar of YMCA Vision 2030, hoping to create environments where everyone can thrive in body, mind and spirit.

In line with World Mental Health Day on 10 October each year, we assembled a distinguished panel of keynote speakers – Jeanette Aw and Rui En, renowned artists in Singapore who have surmounted analogous hurdles. Through their personal stories, they highlighted the pivotal role of cultivating friendships and social networks for mental wellbeing.

Photograph: Rui En with moderator

Motivated by their hopes to destigmatise seeking help, they shared relatable narratives that resonated deeply with the audience. Participants found themselves in a safe environment of empathy and inclusion, where mental health is celebrated at every level.

As part of a larger ecosystem, the symposium is fully sponsored by Hongkong Land Limited., and organised in conjunction with the National Council of Social Services NCSS’ Beyond the Label Movement, with booth partners People Association Youth Movement and Friendzone Singapore. Young people were equipped through workshop sessions such as boundaries and navigating conflicts.


“I learnt more about how important friendships are for any person because without good social support, we'll feel lonely and may possibly lead to us spiraling. Also, I have learnt that boundaries are put in place to protect us in our relationships and friendships.” – Esther Tan, 2023 YGI: 1800-FRIENDSHIPS Participant

Ruth Toh

Senior Executive Marketing

Ruth Toh, Senior Executive, Marketing, has been with the Metropolitan YMCA Singapore for nearly four years. The Association is part of the worldwide YMCA Movement and was founded in 1946 with a vision to lead positive community transformation. The Association nurtures children and works with youth as part of our mission to effect and catalyse positive community transformation – today and for the future. It is also a social enterprise, where all net surpluses from our accommodation and conference facilities drive our various community outreach programmes.