When it comes to mental health, we often find that the online discourse turns negative, fast.
And, honestly... completely valid.
That said, in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month and flipping our negativity bias on its head, we wanted to ask the question: which resources ARE available to us? Which ones can you take advantage of in order to build your resilience – whether in turbulent periods of your life or just for ongoing maintenance?
In this post, we’ve compiled a list of free mental health services available for our community here in Montreal. This way, you or someone you know can find support and discover the options that are available to you!
But first, let's get on the same page with some of the basics.
What is mental health? What is mental wellness?
Mental health or mental wellness refers to the overall well-being of your mind and thoughts. It involves the state of your emotional, psychological and social well-being, and is a significant influence on your overall health. Having good mental health means you are able to feel, think and act in ways that help you enjoy your life in the present and cope with the challenges that may come your way.
Why does mental health matter?
Mental health influences your thoughts, actions and connections with others, which naturally gets carried into all areas of your life. While good mental health can be practiced at home, seeking professional care to bring perspective can make a positive difference in your health and lifestyle.
Bottom line - fostering good mental health will support your overall health. And, when you’re healthy, you can do anything.
What mental health treatments and services are right for me?
When it comes to mental health, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment. This can be unsettling and even frustrating, but we all come to see that there is no linear path. Some require medicine to stabilize their body’s chemistry, and others just need to be listened to (sometimes for the very first time). It is about finding your way through it with the tools that prove useful for you, only learned through trial and error and leaning into the treatments that feel right for you.
A practical way we like to think about mental health treatment is through the process of building a mental wellness tool kit. That is, a set of mindset shifts, tools (a Connect Deck, perhaps?), and practices that you accumulate over your lifetime that will help you minimize the time you spend in mental anguish, finding your way more and more quickly back to yourself.
If you want to improve your mental health at home, here’s a place to start:
- Get to know yourself
- Understand what you can change and what you cannot change
- Define what happiness looks like for you - take our 'how I happy' survey designed to help you do just that
- Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are and build from there
- Develop awareness of your feelings and needs
- Set mental health goals that are achievable and have established time parameters
- Avoid things like alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs
- Make time for the relationships in your life
- Volunteer in your community
- Give yourself a budget and avoid overspending
- Cultivate a healthy and balanced life
Source: Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions: "Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness."
Another big misconception to recognize is: you are not terminally unique.
We are all unique individuals, but our deepest struggles are the most universal. Terminally unique is an expression coined to describe this phenomenon for those who feel that their struggles are so unique to them that no one else could possibly understand them therefore there are no available solutions, and therefore, they are helpless and will never get better.
We absolutely have been there, too, and we reassure you that there absolutely is hope. We want nothing more than for you to find your unique set of tools.
So, what free mental health services are available in Montreal?
Below, we have compiled a researched list of active, free and low-cost mental health services that can help you navigate your mental health status depending on where you are in your current situation.
If you need to talk to someone:
- Your family doctor (if you have one)
- Your local CLSC, CISSS or CIUSSS: Call 811 for more information
- Kids Help Phone: Their texting service is free and available across Canada 24/7. Text CONNECT to 686868
- Canadian Mental Health Association: Contact 514-521-4993 for more information
- AMI-Quebec: Contact 514-486-1448 for more information
If you're feeling depressed or suicidal:
- If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital
- Canadian Mental Health Association: Call the suicide hotline at 1-866-277-3553
- Suicide Action Montreal: Access their helpline via 1-866-277-3553
- Suicide Prevention Service: Speak with someone via 1-866-APPELLE
- Talk Suicide Canada: Speak with someone by contacting 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645
- Depressives Anonymous: Free, anonymous and confidential support to those in distress, 7 days a week, from 8 AM to midnight. Call 514-278-2130
- Groupe d'entraide pour un mieux-être (GEME): Their mission is to demystify anxiety. Contact 1-450-332-4463
- Société québécoise de la schizophrénie: For individuals dealing with a family member living with a mental health issue, contact 1-866-349-9915
If you're struggling with an eating disorder:
- Quebec Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation: Their main goals are to inform the public at large about OCD and to offer support to those with OCD and their families. Call 514-727-0012 for more information
- Anorexie et boulimie Québec: Provides help and support for people with eating disorders and for their loved ones. Text 1-800-630-0907 or call 514-630-0907
If you're homeless or struggling financially:
- Call 311: During the peak moving period, Montreal offers various kinds of assistance, such as help in finding housing, temporary accommodations and storage and referrals to various assistance services
- Housing resource list: https://www.arrondissement.com/eng/tout/a3-women/s7-housing/
- Dans la rue: A resource where you can find and request help and support should you need a place to sleep, eat, or someone to talk to
- Mission Old Brewery: A gateway to transition programs and resources driven by a network of professionals and partners whose collective goal is to end chronic homelessness
- Social Assistance and Social Solidarity: Visit their website to explore your options
- RAMQ: The Financial Assistance Program for Domestic Help Services allows you to benefit from a reduction in the hourly rate charged for domestic help services by social economy businesses. More information here
- Veterans Affairs Canada: Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional
- Centre Interligne Inc.: For issues related to sexual orientation, call 1-888-505-1010 for more information
If you know of any resources that we may have missed, we warmly welcome you comment them below.
A final note.
While this list is not exhaustive with all of the services available in Montreal, it is a good place to start if you or a loved one needs free or low-cost mental health care in the city.
Remember that asking and welcoming help is always okay and there is someone out there who wants to support you with the tips and tools needed to navigate your unique experiences and needs.
Much love ✨