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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Dare to Dream

Start Date

Brief Description
Dare to Dream is an initiative started in 2005 by the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO (the Centre). This program helps Ontario youth (18 years of age and under) become more aware of mental health.

An April 2007 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry revealed that stigma can be a barrier to accessing mental health services for youths aged 1524. The study also noted that almost 50 percent of adolescents and young adults who have a serious emotional disturbance do not receive the mental health services they need.

The Centre wanted to involve youth in the development of stigma reduction efforts because their firsthand experiences provide great insight into the development of meaningful programs. The Centre supports youth involvement through knowledge exchange, adult-youth partnerships, and awareness-raising about mental health issues.

The Centres Dare to Dream program engages youths in mental health issues in meaningful and creative ways by providing them with the opportunity to raise awareness about mental health in their communities.

The Dare to Dream program is a youth-driven initiative that provides students with grants of up to $1,000 (for individuals) and $5,000 (for groups) to help them develop mental health awareness activities. The activities are aimed at decreasing the stigma that is associated with mental illness and helping other youths learn about mental illnesses. Dare to Dream grants are awarded in October and March.

The program is supported by an extensive Web site (in French and English) where applicants and mentors can find information about the program and download application forms. It is actively promoted in school boards, professional associations, youth-based organizations, and on Web sites. Application forms are currently being translated into regional languages to facilitate involvement of aboriginal youths.

As a fairly new initiative, Dare to Dream has just begun to take flight. In 2006, half of the available awards were granted. The Centre expanded available funding to include group projects in order to more easily facilitate participation in the program by classrooms and youth programs. The Centre expects to have many more applicants and funded projects in 2007.

Examples of successful projects funded by the Dare to Dream program include:

  • Training and development of a suicide intervention team at a secondary school,
  • A community mural,
  • A survey of high school students on their knowledge of mental health,
  • Plays focusing on mental health,
  • Development of a relaxation room at school,
  • A youth talent show,
  • A conflict resolution magazine, and
  • Self-esteem programs for girls.

To obtain additional information about the Dare to Dream program, visit the program Web site at or please do not hesitate to email us at


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.