Mental health

Mental Health
November 13, 2020 •  By Centraide
Personne assise sur un banc en extérieur qui se tient la tête dans les mains

Another unprecedented crisis

The data is clear: at the end of summer 2020, one in five Quebec adults was experiencing anxiety and depression. In Montreal, no fewer than one in four adults showed symptoms during this period.*

While this difficult time is affecting everyone, it has placed a particular strain on people who are more anxious or who were already struggling with a mental health problem. What was difficult before the crisis is even more so now, and some groups seem more affected than others.

Group of most affected


Young people have found themselves isolated at a time when their social lives are a priority. Teens, who tend to rebel against limitations, are being asked to respect strict rules. Their family situations and living conditions are not always ideal. Distance learning is not for everyone. As the lockdown measures drag on, it’s hard for them to see when life will ever go back to normal.


More women work in precarious jobs that they have already lost or are at risk of losing in this second wave. Their family responsibilities have increased with having to take care of children at home while working remotely. Spousal violence has increased during the lockdowns. Concern has set in with the end of the CERB, and many don’t know what the future will hold.

Mental health: More concerning than ever

Since the start of the crisis, community agencies have redoubled their efforts to stay in touch with clients despite the health measures.

By the end of March, thanks to our COVID-19 Emergency Fund, many agencies reinforced the capacity of their listening, assistance and referral services.

Support has also helped agencies shift their existing activities from in-person to online and even create new ones.

The clients helped include vulnerable and isolated individuals and families, people whose mental health problems have been exacerbated by the crisis, and people facing income losses, food insecurity, violence, stress, and more.

Young people have benefited from many activities through the Youth Project, which was created jointly by several partners to reduce the risk of isolation and marginalization of youths during the school shutdowns.

Using every possible tool to improve mental health

Here to listen, 24/7

Lockdown-related stress, relationship issues during the pandemic, work-family balance, anxiety about the future—whatever the reason, all calls are welcome. Help lines have had a spike in calls from people in distress about the current crisis.

Individual and group support

Coffee klatches, support groups, and workshops on different mental health topics have gone from in-person to online. People with anxiety and depression who get help from mental health agencies continue to receive services.

Connecting to the vulnerable

Thousands of people get regular calls from a counsellor or volunteer, who checks in on how they are doing and refers them to other resources if necessary. The goal is to detect issues early and break isolation, a risk factor for mental health problems. Many agencies offer services in multiple languages.

Street outreach

Mental health problems are common among people experiencing homeless. Again in this case, street outreach agencies supported by Centraide have scaled up or modified their practices to make sure that no one is left behind. They work downtown, as well as in nearby areas, where the homeless are even more isolated.

Protecting women who are victims of violence

The lockdown has exposed the victims of domestic violence to many triggers of abuse. With almost nowhere to escape, such as work, a friend’s place, or a hobby outside the home, some victims have seen the cycle of violence accelerate. When schools were shut down in the spring, children were also more at risk.

“Support needs have increased for women who are victims of violence and their children who are exposed to violence. Shelters are often the last resort for women in their journey to escape domestic violence. (…) If our resource had been closed due to COVID-19, so many women and children would literally have been put at risk. “Offering psychosocial support to women at the shelter and their homes through the videoconferencing platforms used by our outreach workers helped Inter-Val maintain our essential connection with the women we follow.”

— Inter-Val 1775, an agency supported by the COVID-19 Emergency Fund


211 service will soon be available to all Quebeckers and Canadians

This service has been made possible thanks to funding from the Government of Canada. The 211 line is a free and confidential information and referral service that directs people to essential health and social services provided by either the community sector or the government.

Since the start of the pandemic, the 211 services that were already available in multiple regions of Quebec and Canada have experienced a big increase in demand. They have helped tens of thousands of people access local resources to get help.

Thanks to this investment, 211 will soon be available to all Quebeckers and Canadians during this unprecedented crisis.

$100 million more for mental health

On November 3, 2020, the Government of Quebec announced an additional $100 million for mental health. Out of this amount, community agencies will receive $10 million in 2021-2022, and $4.9 million will be used to accelerate the roll-out of the digital suicide prevention strategy and enhance the 1-866-APPELLE help line.