Published On: May 30, 2023Categories: Blog, Mindfulness, Press Release


In support of social connection, major Houston-area health partners join forces with the Y to strengthen the community and prioritize mental health

HOUSTON (May 26, 2023) – The YMCA of Greater Houston is combating loneliness and isolation by helping Houstonians build connections through its new “Connection Guest Pass.” In the midst of an epidemic of loneliness and isolation, the Y is actively making strides toward strengthening social infrastructure in youth, adults and seniors through major partnerships with key health organizations including Houston Methodist, Menninger Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital and more. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently declared a public health crisis of loneliness, isolation and lack of connection in the country. Dr. Murthy shared that disconnection fundamentally affects mental, physical and societal health and is linked to major medical problems such as insomnia, depression and immune changes as well as higher risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, addiction, dementia and more. Social connection can help curb health problems while also making communities more resilient and productive. Introducing the “Connection Guest Pass” will help YMCAs across Houston battle the dangers of loneliness by providing a space for individuals to have positive experiences and build relationships with others.

Social connection is essential to humanity. The YMCA of Greater Houston is committed to developing and supporting programs to advance individual health and improve resilience in the community. With the new “Connection Guest Pass,” the YMCA invites Houstonians of all ages and background to experience the social benefits of the YMCA with no financial commitment. The pass can be used for a total of three visits with no time constraint or expiration date. Participants will have the opportunity to experience the joy of the YMCA community and the versatility of its programs. Individuals can sign up for the pass in-person or online to begin building relationships with other community members.

“The ‘Connection Guest Pass’ is designed to promote a positive, engaging environment and will help us invest in our neighbors,” said Stephen Ives, president and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “The YMCA is a powerful force that fosters a culture of connection. This initiative helps extend our reach in a meaningful way to those outside of the Y and strengthen social infrastructure in Houston. I’m excited to see the community coming together to experience the social aspects of the YMCA and unite to find a solution to the epidemic of loneliness and isolation.”

The YMCA prioritizes mental health through several programs at its facilities. In partnership with Menninger Clinic, YMCA Camp Cullen, an overnight summer camp experience for youth ages 7-17, will provide clinical support to campers struggling with mental health. Throughout the 10 week-long summer sessions beginning June 4, Menninger Clinic will provide professional clinicians to meet with campers in need of support beyond the expertise of the counselors. All clinicians received a background check, and no camper will receive counseling without parental consent. All YMCA staff and camp counselors will receive trainings on anticipated challenges, appropriate responses to youth mental health challenges, advice giving and more. The collaboration allows YMCA Camp Cullen to meet the needs of every camper and ensure each child has a safe, fun summer.

Additionally, the nonprofit is offering complimentary summer teen memberships to teens age 13-18 now – August 31. The membership gives teens a chance to connect during the summer months and participate in a range of activities such as swimming, group exercise, monthly social events, college readiness opportunities and more. Teens can also attend mental health wellness workshops with Y Teen L.I.F.E. where they reflect on their emotions and learn different approaches when faced with life challenges or mental health concerns. Seniors and adults can build relationships by participating in the ForeverWell program, group exercise classes and more.

To learn more about the YMCA’s “Connection Guest Pass” and programs aimed at combating loneliness and isolation, visit your local YMCA center or ymcahouston.org/get-connected.