It is whilst working at a school Jessica Wells (Josie Bissett) meets Patrick (Jason Gedrick) a nice guy who hopes to open his own farm one day. And soon Jessica is smitten with Patrick which her parents find quite bemusing. But Jessica has always been extremely close to her brother Stephen (Chad Lowe), even saying she would die if he went away to college. When Stephen is killed in a motoring accident not only does Patrick find himself being shut out by her parents but learns that between a doctor and a psychiatrist they have Jessica heavily medicated as she can't cope with the loss. When Jessica attempts to take her own life it leads to some time is a psychiatric hospital where she is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
I will apologise now as I have to say "Dare to Love" is not a TV movie made to entertain, in fact there is nothing in this movie which is entertaining. But it is a movie made to open up the audience's eyes to the complexity of mental illness, the difficulty in treating those with it as well as how it affects those close to the person who has the mental illness. As such what you get in "Dare to Love" is the erratic behaviour of Jessica who flip flops between moods in a blink of an eye and at times is a danger to herself and those around her. We also see how the trial and error medication as they try to get the dosage right leaves her feeling not like herself anymore and so at times she chooses to not take the drugs.
But as I said we also see how those close to Jessica are affected by her diagnosis and her erratic mood swings. You have her mother who have witnessed her own mother struggle with mental illness find watching her daughter struggle extremely hard to handle, terrifying her having been through it before. And then we have Patrick doing everything he can and being as patient as possible to try and help Jessica as he loves her and often takes the brunt of her mood swings with the hurt having a deep effect on him.
What I will say is that whilst all involved play their parts well it is Josie Bissett who makes this movie as the looks she gives speak volume of how Jessica is coping. As such we go from moments of fear to then dark eyed loneliness and longing to be dead yet we also have the fire in her eyes when she isn't knocked out on medication.
What this all boils down to is that "Dare to Love" is an insightful look at schizophrenia and the effect it has on all the friends and family as well as the individual when they are diagnosed with the mental illness.