The Québec Program for Mental Disorders: from Self-Care to Psychotherapy (PQPTM) is part of a new mental health access and support program in Québec. It aims to improve access to mental health services, including psychotherapy, for the population.

The PQPTM relies on a set of existing services, ranging from self-care to support and family interventions to psychotherapy.

Self-care refers to any action a person takes to maintain their health and well-being. In short, any action a person takes to:

  • Regain control over their mental health
  • Use positive coping strategies in their everyday life, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle
  • Find out about available resources that can help and when to use them
  • Play a proactive role in any steps to improve their quality of life and mental health

A person who practices self-care may be assisted and supported by a care provider. The care provider will ensure that self-care is practiced at the right time and in an appropriate and optimal manner.

Psychotherapy refers to the psychological treatment of a person. According to the Ordre des psychologues du Québec, psychotherapy aims to help a person change their attitudes, behaviour or ways of thinking or reacting so that they feel better, are able to find answers to their questions, solve problems, make choices or understand themselves better.

Psychotherapy is intended for anyone who has:

  • A mental disorder
  • A behavioural disturbance
  • A problem that is causing psychological suffering or distress

Psychotherapy goes beyond support and counselling. It goes beyond help aimed at dealing with everyday difficulties. Psychotherapy helps a person make significant changes in their:

  • Cognitive, emotional or behavioural functioning
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Personality
  • Health

In Québec, a permit is required to practice psychotherapy.

In addition to self-care and psychotherapy, the PQPTM provides a framework for services offered to people with common mental disorders. Some of these services are similar to psychotherapy but are not psychotherapy, such as:

  • Accompaniment and support through meetings
  • Support interventions
  • Conjugal and family interventions
  • Psychological education
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical follow-up
  • Coaching


Once it has been fully deployed in all regions of Québec, people of all ages who wish to receive mental health services will be eligible for the PQPTM. It will cover common mental disorders.


Once it has been deployed in all regions, the PQPTM will be available free of charge to all Québec citizens who are covered by Québec’s public health insurance plan (RAMQ) and who will receive services in the health and social services network.


1. Ask for help

To find out about your situation and determine whether or not PQPTM services are appropriate for you, the first step is to ask for help. To find out the regions where PQPTM is gradually deployed, see Deployment.

If you or a family member or friend are in distress or have signs and symptoms similar to those of a mental disorder, ask for help:

  • Go to the reception at your Local Community Services Centres (CLSC)
  • Call Info-Social 811
  • Go to your family medicine group (FMG) or see your doctor
  • See a care provider at a community organization, such as a crisis centre
  • Contact a care provider you have seen before, where applicable
  • Contact a health worker at your primary or secondary school, university or vocational training centre, if you are a student
  • Go to a hospital emergency room if the situation is serious and requires immediate attention

To find the contact information for a resource near you, go to the Finding a resource section.

2. Assessment of the situation

The care provider will assess your situation. At the first appointment, he will ask you questions about:

  • Your situation and how often it happens
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your family and social network
  • What you do (work, study, etc.)
  • Your health
  • Your living conditions

These questions will help him understand what is wrong, what you have gone through or are going through at the moment so that he can determine what is stopping you from functioning normally.

When he has completed his assessment, the care provider will refer you to services offered under the PQPTM or, where applicable, to other services that will meet your needs, to help you get better.

3. Treatment and services offered

Stepwise treatment

The PQPTM and mental health services are based on a stepwise treatment model. This refers to an approach to the organization of care where people receive treatment with the greatest potential for improvement, at the lowest possible intensity. The care provider continuously monitors treatment results and may decide to increase or decrease the intensity of the treatment or to change treatment.

Treatments include, for example:

  • Directed self-care
  • Support
  • Group interventions
  • Family interventions
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Treatments provided in hospitalization units

Clinical practice guides for common mental disorders

In order to provide a framework for services, the PQPTM has developed clinical practice guides for the common mental disorders covered. For each disorder, there are 2 complementary guides: one for care providers and one for the person who is receiving treatment and their family or friends.

The information in the guide will help anyone who is receiving mental health services to make informed decisions. The guide will be given to them by the care provider and covers topics such as:

  • The best time to see care providers
  • The possibility of accepting or refusing a proposed treatment
  • The different treatments available
  • Possible medications
  • The length of treatment

The guides also provide details about the range of services. This way, the person will know in advance, depending on their situation, what services care providers should be offering so that they can make an informed choice from among the services available to them.

The guides make recommendations and are not a substitute for a professional’s clinical judgement.

Information for family members and friends

The guide for the person who is receiving treatment also contains information for his family members and friends, such as:

  • A list of support groups
  • Respite and ad hoc assistance measures to prevent exhaustion
  • Information about the common mental disorder concerned
  • Advice on how to help ensure the person’s successful treatment and recovery, for example:
    • By developing helpful attitudes
    • By learning to say what they think in a positive way
    • By encouraging the person to consult or to continue treatment


In fall 2019, the PQPTM will be gradually deployed in the following five institutions:

  • CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale
  • CISSS Chaudière-Appalaches
  • CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
  • CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec
  • CISSS de l'Outaouais

During the deployment, clinical practice guides and information documents on common adult mental disorders will be available.

The PQPTM will ultimately be implemented in all other institutions in Québec that offer mental health services.