Finding help and support for mental health
Mental health care and services: a diverse offer for all needs
Accessible and adapted mental health services
All public health and social services institutions in Québec offer free mental health care and services.
Children, teenagers and adults who are living with symptoms associated with the most common mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression, have access to a diverse range of mental health care and services, support or appropriate treatment, offered by the right care provider, in the right place, as provided for by the Québec Program for Mental Disorders: From Self-Care to Psychotherapy (PQPTM) set up by the Gouvernement du Québec in 2017.
Local services (family medicine groups [FMGs] or local community service centres [CLSCs], for example) can offer the following services:
- Support meetings
- Ssupport interventions
- Group interventions
- Individual interventions using techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy
- Couple and family interventions
- Clinical follow‑up
In collaboration with the care provider, the choice of intervention and its intensity are based, in particular, on each person’s symptoms, difficulties in daily functioning, values and preferences. So the nature of the service varies depending on the need for support or assistance.
Medication may also be recommended, often in combination with one or more of these services. For more information about recommendations regarding taking medication, go to the page About mental disorders.
If more treatment and support is needed, the person will be referred to specialized mental health services to see a psychiatrist or a care provider with specific expertise.
Ask for help
If you or someone close to you are in distress or have signs and symptoms of a mental disorder, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can:
- call Info-Social 811;
- go to your family medicine group (FMG) or see your doctor;
- consult a care provider at a community mental health organization or a crisis centre (in French only);
- contact the care provider you are already seeing, if you have one;
- if you are a student, contact a care provider at your educational institution;
- go to a hospital emergency room if the situation requires immediate attention.
Go to the Mental health help and support resources page to find out what resources are available.
Understand your needs
A care provider will assess your situation and your needs. At the first appointment, they will ask you questions about:
- your situation;
- your lifestyle;
- your family and social network;
- what you do (work, study, leisure activities, etc.);
- your overall health;
- your living conditions.
When they have completed their assessment, the care provider will be able to refer you to the services that best meet your needs and are the most accessible and effective for you. They will discuss them with you and may offer you different options, in particular treatments, to help you get better.
To help you choose between the different options, you will be provided with specific information about your disorder or symptoms and the possible treatments. The care provider should also tell you about the benefits of each of the treatments and the particular risks associated with your personal situation.
It is important that you participate in the discussions in order to make informed decisions about the services you receive from your care provider. Your choices are important and care providers should support them whenever possible.
Once your situation has been assessed, you may choose a particular treatment or wait to see how your situation evolves. Your symptoms may sometimes improve without treatment when they are closely monitored by a care provider or if you follow their advice to manage them.
Questions you can ask your care provider
Take the time to ask your care provider any questions that come to mind, for example:
- Can you give me more information about my mental disorder and the help you can give me?
- What types of treatment and support could I be offered?
- Should I see more than one care provider to get help for my mental disorder?
- Will my personal information be kept confidential and will my privacy be respected?
The definitions below will give you a better understanding of the treatments that you may be offered.
You will be able to use them to discuss the treatments proposed and their implications on your daily life with your care provider. Do not hesitate to use them!
Self‑care (directed or non‑directed)
Among the care and services offered, self‑care is recognized as effective when it is offered at the right time, in an appropriate manner and according to needs. A person can undertake these interventions on their own or with a little help from a care provider, by using a book or computer equipment. The goal of self‑care is to understand mental disorders and develop strategies to cope with the symptoms.
Social, academic or professional support
Self‑help and support groups, or consulting a peer helper, can help the person develop strategies to manage symptoms and break their isolation.
A peer helper is someone who has or has had a mental disorder. Their personal skills, professional skills and peer helper training make them a model of hope and positive recovery. This allows them to offer their experience and support.
Referrals to study or job support services may also complement the services.
Psychoeducation provides the person with knowledge and skills in order to maintain and improve their autonomy or health. In particular, it helps prevent the onset of mental disorders or the deterioration of mental health.
Teaching may be provided, for example, on the nature of the mental disorder, its manifestations, its treatments, the role the person can play in maintaining or restoring their health and also on stress management, relaxation or self‑assertion techniques. Psychoeducation is usually supported by the use of written materials.
Applied relaxation proposes muscle relaxation techniques in situations where the person experiences (or might experience) anxiety. Using this strategy requires several hours of practice before you will see a significant effect on the management of anxiety symptoms. Once mastered, the person will be able to use it to react quickly to anxiety or concerns.
Rehabilitation aims to help the person cope with the symptoms or improve their skills. It is useful in the recovery process in order to achieve an optimal degree of autonomy. Rehabilitation can be part of support meetings and include, for example, hallucination management or daily and social skills training.
Individual intervention using techniques from cognitive‑behavioural therapy
These interventions aim to improve the person’s functioning in the different spheres of their life and offer more support from a care provider.
They can help the person recognize different types of thoughts and beliefs, understand the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviours and see if they are related to the problems or symptoms. They also help the person develop strategies to recognize them (thoughts, behaviours, etc.) and replace them with others that are more appropriate.
In the context of the PQPTM, group psychoeducation is based on the principles of cognitive‑behavioural therapy (CBT) models. The intervention is interactive. It encourages observation‑based learning and may include self‑care presentations and manuals.
Psychotherapy refers to the psychological treatment of a person. According to the Ordre des psychologues du Québec, it aims to help a person change their attitude, behaviour, way of thinking or reacting so that they feel better, are able to find answers to their questions, solve problems, make choices and understand themselves better.
More specifically, it may aim to identify and modify thoughts, beliefs and interpretations associated with the mental disorder. It may also promote the development of more appropriate adjustment mechanisms for life situations as well as raise awareness of the internal dynamics underlying the problem.
In Québec, a permit is required to practice psychotherapy.
Last update: March 1, 2024