Limitless is a Singapore-based non-profit organisation supporting youth aged 12-25 with issues related to mental health. It began with the belief that every youth has the potential to “Rise, Inspire, Seek and Empower”. Upholding this belief, they provide a myriad of avenues for youths to seek help and opportunities. We had the privilege of interviewing Asher Low, founder of Limitless and a millennial himself, about why and how he started this project.
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A Journey of Overcoming Limits
Q: What were the catalysts that led to you starting the company?
I had a couple of things that drove me to start Limitless, one of which was my Christian faith, which has built a belief in me that every person is a masterpiece, and has been called to do ‘great’ things in their lives. Great can be a subjective term and may mean different things to different people, but regardless of what it means to a person, it signifies that person’s potential in life.
And seeing the world through these lens, I realised that there are people who struggle being masterpieces, or achieving their potential and hearts’ desires in life. Many of them are youths, who may find themselves unable to achieve any tenet of potential because of their mental health, social-economic circumstances, or because they are socially isolated.
Seeing first hand through my experience as a youth worker, and as a family social worker, how help can be critical in empowering people to succeed and come out of difficult environments or situations. I realised that one of the best ways I could support young people who might be struggling would be to provide that avenue of practical help. Of course, my own struggles with mental health also played a huge role in my desire to help young people who are going through similar struggles.
Q: How did you overcome the issues that you faced?
Funding was a huge issue for the first couple of years. My wife and I put quite a bit of our own savings into Limitless, and a very good friend lent me S$10,000 as a start-up fund. It was only when we got successful grant funding that we were able to actualise our work a lot more. But yes, fundraising is always one of the biggest challenges for a non-profit organisation such as Limitless.
A Limitless Vision
Q: I understand that Limitless is an organisation reaching out to youths aged 12-25. Why this age group?
The age group was chosen because it covers 2 distinct age groups – puberty and young adults. Both are hugely transitional stages where young people often find their largest personal struggles develop. We also help to fill a gap right now, where young people may find themselves unable to seek help because they’re over 18 and under 21. This is because traditionally, helping services provide support up to ages defined by local laws. We want to make reaching out for help easy.
Q: What kinds of stigmas do you see in our society towards mental health, and why are they irrelevant?
I think as a society we’re getting to the point where it’s no longer cool to make fun of mental illness. And that’s a good thing!
But we do often see stigma becoming a barrier for recovery, with young people choosing not to seek help because of what their parents tell them, or what they tell themselves. Stigma is particularly damaging when you start to believe that mental health issues are insignificant, or that you can pray/think/meditate them away. We place loads of emphasis on physical illness, and if a young person struggles with cancer, we can be sure that their parent will likely be pulling out all the stops to ensure that that person gets the treatment they need.
But when it’s a mental health issue, “You’re fine, you just need to think more positively”, or “Man up” are common responses. We often fail as a society to realise that suicide, most commonly linked to mental health issues, kills more young people than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. These stigmas and taboos surrounding mental illness are challenges we have to deal with often. One of the biggest challenges is to help parents understand what their children are going through. And getting them to support the child as an active part of their children’s treatment.
Stigma is particularly damaging when you start to believe that mental health issues are insignificant, or that you can pray/think/meditate them away.
– Asher Low
A Limitless Society
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Q: If a child is going through something difficult, what kind of conversations do you think parents can have with their children that would be helpful?
Conversations about how the child is feeling, their struggles, are very helpful. Empathy is the priority, and parents who show it in their words, tone, and even facial expressions make it much easier for children and youths to open up. Also really important, are the questions about “how can I help you?”. Although, hovering and trying to force a young person to tell you more than what they’re comfortable with disclosing will often backfire.
Q: In the long run, what do you hope to see in our society?
I hope to see mental health become an everyday topic of discussion, something that we can throw out as nonchalantly as “Oh I got the cold, had to go see a doctor lately”. My hope is that anyone can say, “I’ll be heading to my therapist during lunch later”, and the response, instead of shock or horror, would be something like, “Is he/she good? Maybe I could go see him/her too”.
As a society, we should be having conversations about our mental health, what we can do to improve it, stories of personal struggle and triumph, what we can do to help someone else. Just talking about it openly moves the needle on stigma. And when the stigma is removed, we’ll be a more mentally healthy and well society in general.
Q: Who can come to your organisation for help?
Anyone who’s struggling, from the ages of 12 to 25 years old.
Please begin to seek help or talk to someone if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. If you feel like you’re struggling to stay afloat, don’t try to handle it on your own. Talk to somebody, a friend, parent, someone you trust, or seek professional help. Especially if you’re thinking about hurting yourself or someone else. The bravest thing you can do at that moment, is to ask for help.
For youths who are suffering from mental health conditions, do not wait. There are options out there for you.
You can seek help from
If you are not a youth,
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact these outlets immediately.
To support Limitless and the work that they do, participate in The Limitless Run, a virtual fundraising run with the aim to build awareness for mental health in Singapore. Details can be found here.
Images : Limitless Instagram, Straits Times