Home > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

After several years of roller coasters, I think I have accepted the reality of my loved one’s mental illness, but I am saddened when I think that they may not be able to hold a steady job or start a family. How can I overcome this sadness?

People who suffer from a mental health disorder, like those living with a chronic physical illness, need to find meaning in their lives. They must come to terms with unfulfilled expectations and a life different from the one they had imagined. It is important to verify if they really are sad or if this is your interpretation of their emotions. Often, two people who witness the same event will give very different accounts of it. The same phenomenon happens when you examine someone else’s life. You see things you would consider unacceptable in your life, whereas the other person may find them to be enriching.

It is not uncommon for someone who has been on a roller coaster for years to recover enough to hold a steady job and start a family.

How do I explain what is happening to other family members, friends and my loved one?

With openness and honesty. It is important that everybody who maintains a relationship with the person with the mental illness share their concerns with those around them. Explaining what mental illness is and how it manifests in everyday life will help relieve the tension we feel when faced with the unknown. It is important to remember that the person affected will grow over the course of the illness, as will the people around them, so it is important to avoid labelling.

Family members can also share their distress, worries and feelings of helplessness. A burden shared is always lighter! Your loved one is still part of the family unit and may share the same concerns. The more information you have, the less overwhelmed you will feel by the illness.

Since learning of my loved one’s mental illness, my life has been upended. How can I get it back on track?

Each person will react differently to this news, depending on their life experiences. The emotions experienced (anger, sadness, guilt, etc.) will be expressed differently according to several factors, including age, education, gender, life experience, etc.

In order to navigate this new situation, it is important to allow all loved ones to recognize that they are experiencing a loss and that this leads to new concerns and emotions. These losses often need to be grieved. To move forward, these losses will need to be identified and their resulting emotions expressed.

Could something I said or did have caused or advanced the mental illness of my loved one?

You should look at mental health problems as you would physical health problems and recognize that they are phenomenons over which you have you have little control. Mental illness cannot be caused by one individual factor. It is the result of many factors, and you are not not responsible for what happened.

I feel powerless or isolated from the medical network. Where can I find help?

Health professionals are bound by confidentiality laws that do not allow them to disclose certain information about their patients. So, it is not surprising that you feel powerless or isolated from the system the difficulties your loved one is experiencing.

The best way to find answers to your questions is to contact the family service organizations in your area. There you will find an attentive ear and a range of services adapted to your needs.

After a difficult crisis situation, the doctor chose to hospitalize my loved one against their will for their protection, but they can’t medicate them. Why?

When a physician confines a person to a facility against their will to ensure their safety or that of others, they do so with the authorization of the Court of Quebec. This confinement is temporary, since it deprives the person of their freedom and integrity, two fundamental principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This authorization is an exceptional measure that only allows the person to be subjected to preventive care such as monitoring, physical control and professional observation.

If the person refuses treatment, the treating physician and the hospital will have to submit a new application to the courts to obtain authorization.
Obviously, the team will try to avoid this option by attempting to convince the person of the benefits of the medication.

When my loved one was hospitalized, the care team questioned me at length. Since then, I have not received any information, and I don’t want to intrude on their privacy. What should I do?

During the first hospitalization of an “adult” loved one, you must clarify your need for information with them in order to effectively assist them. The care team is bound by confidentiality rules that do not allow for the disclosure of information without your loved one’s permission.

First, the team will try to obtain as much information as possible to establish a profile of the illness. Then, they will observe your loved one for several days to identify symptoms of the illness and attempt to treat them. This observation period may seem long when you are waiting for answers, but given the consequences associated with a diagnosis, it is better to take all the time necessary. During hospitalization, you can identify key members of your loved one’s care team and establish a connection with one or two of them. When possible, address your questions to the same care team member to avoid any misunderstandings. The information you need to accompany your loved one is not an attack on their privacy, but rather a tool to help you assist them more effectively.

The care team has approved my loved one’s discharge. They have instructed me to make sure they take their medication, while avoiding being overprotective. How do I do that?

Discharge from the hospital is often one of the most difficult times for your loved one. Hospitalization often happens under very stressful conditions, and your loved one may still be shaken by the experience.

This requires some vigilance the first few days, but you don’t have to police them. Your loved one is an adult and, therefore, they must also take care of themselves. Now is a good time to define your expectations regarding the challenges identified prior to hospitalization, such as any drug or alcohol use, meal and sleeping schedules as well as personal hygiene.

Since finding out about my loved one’s illness, I have assumed a lot of responsibility to avoid overwhelming other family members. Did I make the right decision?

Despite the fact that you would like to protect everyone you love from the effects of the illness, it is impossible to do so. You should approach the problem as you would have before your loved one’s illness by involving all those concerned by the decision. Those who are most affected by the situation should have the opportunity to express themselves in the search for solutions.

Upon their release from the hospital, it was agreed upon with my loved one that they would be placed in a foster home. Some members of the family do not agree with the decision. How can I explain it?

The decision of whether or not to house a person living with a mental health problem is a very difficult decision and one that should be approached calmly and without guilt. First, it is important to seek the opinions of family members who live with your loved one. Depending on previous conflicts, it may be preferable to choose an alternative accommodation while still providing meaningful support. If there are family members who disagree with this decision, it is important that they identify the responsibilities they are willing to take on in supporting your loved one (for example : accompanying them to their appointments or actively seeking help in case of of relapse). That way, all members of the immediate family will be able to set their boundaries. Once a decision has been made regarding alternative accommodation, it is important to inform the care team so they can make the necessary arrangements prior to discharge from the hospital. Your loved one should also be informed of the decision as soon as possible. As far as extended family, friends or others are concerned, no explanation is required.


My loved one saw a psychiatrist following their hospitalization. They were diagnosed and prescribed medication. They are doing much better. When will they be able to resume their activities?

The answer to this question differs from one individual to another. Diagnosis and medication are just the beginning of the affected person’s recovery process. They may be unable to regain the same level of functioning. The care team can help identify realistic expectations regarding their recovery. The team may not be able to predict the course of the illness or have the answers to all your questions.

Thanks to our partners :

Jean Coutu
VIA Rail Canada
L’Appui proches aidants
Réseaux communautaire de Santé et de Services sociaux
Centre d’apprentissage Santé et Rétablissement
Lafrance Communication
Desjardins Caisse du Plateau Montcalm
Raise Solutions
David Communication
Centre Axel
Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
Fondation Québec Philanthrope

Merci à nos donateurs corporatifs :

Fondation Famille Leclair
iA Groupe financier
Dariane Sanche