The Canadian Mental Health Association's Quebec City branch a is part of a vast national network and, as such, its history is dependent on that of this network. It should be recalled that CMHA was originally called the Canadian National Committee on Mental Hygiene whose founders were Dr. Clarence M. Hincks and Clifford W. Beers, on January 26, 1918. Mental health was a very important cause in the eyes of Dr. Hincks, for he himself had suffered from mental illness. In order to form the committee, Hincks asked friends and professionals who worked primarily in the medical field to join him and his cause.

The Canadian National Committee on Mental Hygiene's first meeting was officially held on April 26, 1918. Originally, the committee had five main objectives:

  1. The desire to conduct psychiatric examinations of soldiers of war to provide them with adequate care. 
  2. Evaluating post-war immigrants for better selection of newcomers.
  3. Having appropriate equipment to diagnose and treat mental illness. 
  4. Providing appropriate care for those who are mentally deficient. 
  5. Preventing mental illness.

Since its founding in Toronto, this community organization has grown over the years. To such an extent that there are now ten provincial divisions, two territorial divisions and more than one hundred and twenty-seven branches distributed throughout Canada. The Divisions allow exchanges between the branches as well as the creation of joint projects. They transmit the relevant information to the different branches and the latter can then organize their own activities, each of the branches being autonomous.

The Quebec Branch

The Quebec branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association began operations in 1962 with patients at the Saint-Michel-Archange Hospital, now known as the Robert-Giffard Hospital Center. However, it was not until January 1963 that the association received its official letters, which made it a community organization. During the 1970s, while the deinstitutionalization and emergence of new community groups changed aspects of the mental health problem, CMHA, in order to better respond to the needs of the population, oriented its action towards the promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness. The Quebec branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association celebrated its forty-five years in 2008 and, over the course of its history, has achieved many accomplishments.

First, in 1963, the Quebec branch brought volunteers into the psychiatric community. In 1970, the Association founded the community organization La Croix Blanche which was founded on its premises. Like the White Cross, several organizations have emerged through the CMHA and have since become independent. The ARBRE is now known as EquiTravail (1979), the sponsorship of Entraide Parents in 1984, Entraide jeunesse Québec in 1988, and so on. One of the first direct services offered to the population of the Quebec City area came in 1987 with the official opening of CMHA's information service called the Local Center for Mental Health Aid and Information. In 1989, it became the Mental Health Information and Assistance Service (MNAS), now better known as the Call Center. Starting in 1995, various workshops were created and offered free of charge to the population. To this day, we offer workshop programs on various subjects (most often in French) like dealing with isolation, developping self-esteem and so on. Since 1952, the Canadian Mental Health Association has organized National Mental Health Week in the first week of May. During this week, many activities related to mental health are organized such as conferences, workshops, picnics, coffee-meetings, etc.