Did you know that 70% of persons living with a mental illness see their symptoms begin before age 18?

At Hats On For Awareness, our vision is to break barriers and support accessible mental health care for all. We raise funds and awareness for programs that provide urgent, frontline support for people in vulnerable situations in the Greater Toronto Area.

With that in mind…

We are launching our Pass the Hat Campaign on May 6th – the first day of Mental Health Week! It’ll be a week of community uniting to offer solidarity, engaging in heartfelt conversations and story sharing, and giving what we can to increase mental health care access.

Please join us in Passing The Hat for Mental Health! You’ll be helping raise awareness so that more of our youth have somewhere to turn in a crisis.



What Does It Mean To Pass The Hat?

“Passing the Hat” is inspired by the idea of community standing together, taking turns wearing the hat to tell our stories and then urging others to do the same. Wearing the hat is a symbol of protecting your head and your mind, and it’s something simple that we can each do to lend our voice to help break barriers. Holding the hat out to someone else is also a symbol of directly asking for financial support. During this campaign, we’re doing all of the above.

From May 6th to 10th, we’ll be posting mental health awareness information on social media and encouraging others to do the same. You’ll likely be seeing a lot of mental health campaigns that week. Here’s what you need to know about what sets ours apart:

There will be hats. Not just our branded purple caps, but every day, any style hats.

The people wearing the hats will be engaging in real and much-needed conversations about mental health care, in an effort to raise awareness.

You can be one of these hat-wearing, story-sharing people too! (Keep scrolling to learn why and how to participate.)



Why Are We Passing The Hat?

By age 25, approximately 20% of Canadians will have developed a mental illness. 

Throughout the campaign, we’ll be sharing the story of a youth named Marco, who is in that 20%. His journey shows exactly why our frontline mental health resources are so crucial.

By the time he was 13 years old, Marco had already accessed professional care for multiple mental health challenges, including a learning disability, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through his struggles, Marco showed himself to be resilient – a fighter. So when he started refusing to eat, his parents were deeply concerned.

Follow along on Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter to hear the rest of Marco’s story about finding the care he needed, and join in the conversation!



Your Simple But Important Role To Play

We’d love for folks to challenge themselves to share something heartfelt. What you share is 100% your call – your authenticity is valuable!

A couple ideas for what to share:

    • If you feel comfortable, feel free to share a personal story of your own mental health challenges.

    • Share something you’ve learned recently about mental health or the state of mental health care in your community, or at large.

    • Write a brief note calling for improvements to the system: that mental health care needs to be easier to access, and accessible to everyone.

If you’re interested in receiving more ideas, mental health stats and facts, and specific prompts, visit our Pass the Hat 2024 campaign page to provide your email address and we’ll send you those directly!



Your Voice Is Essential

Thank you in advance for making time to help break barriers and support mental health programs. By lending your voice, you are helping move the needle to ensure that more of our youth can access the essential, life-giving mental health care that they need.

Join in so that no one is left behind.


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Humber River Hospital

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