Skip navigation Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion About Us |  FAQs |  Contact Us 
ADS Center bridge over water logo

Toll-Free: 1-800-540-0320

Training Teleconferences
Information Update
Campaigns & Programs
Take Action
Campaign for Social Inclusion
Mental Health Facts
My Story
In The News
Join our Listserv
Link to Us
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)


Iris the Dragon Book Series
Perth Canada

Start Date

Brief Description
The Iris the Dragon book series was developed in 2000 by Gayle Grass in Ontario, Canada. It was created to help reduce the negative attitudes that are associated with mental illness and to generate understanding and awareness of mental health problems in children. The series consists of illustrated children’s books and educational resources that deal with the topic of children’s mental health. The series helps children and caregivers understand that early detection, risk management, and education can help alleviate, if not prevent, mental illness in children and reaffirm the message that mental illness in children exists, is increasing, and needs to be better understood.

Ten years ago a family member of Gayle’s became ill with a mental illness. The illness was new to her and her family and, while they sought answers and understanding of the illness, they felt isolated because they found so little support in the community. People were still afraid of the words and connotation that mental illness brought to mind. Yet one in five children experience a mental illness. Gayle found that there were few resources in the marketplace that dealt with children’s mental health and wanted to create a tool that would facilitate a dialog between parents and children in a non-threatening format and in a language they could both understand such as an illustrated storybook.

Gayle became determined to educate caregivers and children about the necessity of early identification and treatment of mental disorders.

Iris the Dragon Inc. was created to provide educational material for adults and young readers to help facilitate a conversation between parents, teachers, and children about issues relating to mental health and emotional wellness. Iris the Dragon books address a variety of mental health disorders and stress the need for creating a supportive and understanding community to help deal with issues relating to mental illness.

The Iris the Dragon book series is also supplemented by an in depth Web site,, which provides information on the book series, lesson plans for educators, information on other complementary Iris the Dragon programs, and other mental health related resources in Canada.

Since its development, Iris the Dragon Inc. has seen a huge increase in demand for books on mental health for children. The book series has been vetted and endorsed by numerous mental health professionals both in Canada and abroad.

The books have been successful with educators, social workers, parents, and therapists in beginning a discussion with children about mental health. The books have also helped to normalize many children’s feelings and thoughts towards the symptoms they experience and provided them with a way to communicate their experiences to adults by using the examples in the books. To date, over 15,000 Iris the Dragon books have been distributed throughout North America and the organization continues to publish books on various topics of mental health.

For more information on Iris the Dragon, Inc., contact Jessica Grass, marketing/education outreach coordinator, 1545 Rideau Ferry Road, Perth, ON, K7H 3C7, or by calling 613–326–0001.

To review a list of books from the Iris the Dragon series or to access education lesson plans, you may access the Iris the Dragon Web site at


Adobe PDF™ and MS Office™ formatted files require software viewer programs to properly read them. Click here to download these FREE programs now.

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.