Depression is reversible

Partners for Life


Partners for Life is a teenage depression outreach program designed for youth 14 and up as well as parents and school's staff.

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Partners for Life is an outreach program that aims, firstly, to teach young people 14 and older, parents and school staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and, secondly, to help them refer someone in distress to the appropriate resources. This program aims at an early problem-solving of teen depression: an illness that can lead to academic failure and even suicide. Since its establishment in 1998, the Partners For Life progam has informed close to 921,708 teens across Quebec.

The program is offered free of charge in schools by a team of dynamic young animators who have more than 150 hours of training in mental health intervention. Sessions of 50 to 75 minutes offer various theoretical notions about mental illness, role playing, screening tools, advice and resources. In addition, Partners for Life offers three different sessions depending on specific audiences: teens, parents and school staff.


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Program's strenghts

  • Offered free of charge
  • Young and dynamic facilitators
  • Content developed and validated by experts
  • Approach focused the realities of young people
  • Interactive sessions using humour and visualization
  • Accessible, turnkey program
  • Sessions available in French and English
  • Distribution of a memory aid
  • Referrals to community resources
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  • Demystifying mental illness to break down the stigmas
  • Promote healthy lifestyle choices
  • Inform about the distress signals associated teen depression and the different steps
    to help someone.
  • Promote the resources in the community


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Animation types

Partners for Life offers 5 types of animation adapted for specific audiences:

  • For teens
  • For parents
  • For teachers
  • For futur social workers
  • For peer helpers
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Content of the animation

Part 1

  • Demystifying mental illness: prejudice and taboos
  • Definition of depression
  • Difference between sadness and depression
  • Causes
  • Healthy habits

Part 2

  • Distress signals: manifestations and behaviour disruptions

Part 3

  • Ways to help someone who worries us
  • Available resources

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Who is the program for

  • Students 14 years old and up
  • Students of professional training schools or Adult Education Center
  • School staff: teachers, social workers, principals, etc.
  • Parents
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The animators

The Partners for Life team has 2 coordinators, 1 team manager and 10 animators.

2015-2016 team: find out who they are !


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Information and outreach tools

You want more information on teen depression and on the Partners for Life animation ?

Download our information and outreach tools!

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Between November 1996 and March 1997, the Mental Illness Foundation faced a horrific tragedy: five teenagers killed themselves in the Eastern Townships. According to the coroner, the only relationship that existed between these young people was that they were suffering from an undiagnosed depression that led to their suicidal act. Following this event, and in keeping with its mission of demystification, the Foundation decided to act and to inform the public about the link between suicide and mental illness to educate young people and the adults around them about depression and youth suicide.

In 1998, the Partners for Life program was developed based on the premise that depression in adolescence can be prevented through education and early detection. Through their actions and their research, governments and experts in the field supported this premise.

With the help of educational sessions, Partners for Life aims to raise awareness of participants about the signs of depression and its treatment, and to promote the resources that can help prevent, detect and treat depression.

Following demand from schools in 2004, the program has evolved with the addition of a references section.

Every year, the  team meets more than 50,000 adolescents and adults to raise awareness about depression, an illness that can lead to academic failure and even suicide. Since its inception, the Partners for Life program has helped build awarenes among 906,019 adolescents, 11,192 parents and 30,070 school staff in 762 schools across Quebec. Among the young people we met, more than 16,000 were treated or followed up for depression, while 2,470 were hospitalized. The facilitators of the programs also:

  • Conducted 5,261 direct interventions in schools
  • Reported 939 young people in distress
  • Conducted 203 emergency calls
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Youth and depression

  • An estimated 15% or 1.2 million young Canadians will experience mental illness during their adolescence
  • 50% of mental illnesses start appear before the age of 18. 
  • 80% to 90% of young people who died by suicide have a mental illness, usually depression
  • An estimated 70% of depressed youth are undiagnosed are not receiving treatment
  • In Quebec, depression is a leading cause of school dropouts
  • In Canada, suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers
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Results and recognition

A program that saves lives

The rate of youth suicide in Quebec is one of the highest in the world. While it’s not possible to link the decline in youth suicide directly to the Partners for Life program since its inception in 1998, the Quebec coroner's report shows that the suicide rate among young Quebecers decreased by 51% compared to 21% for the general population.

Scientific evaluation

Alain Lesage et Jean-Claude Moubarac, Réseau québécois de recherches sur le suicide

In 2011, researchers Alain Lesage and Jean-Claude Moubarac of the Réseau québécois de recherche sur le suicide (RQRS) issued a scientific opinion demonstrating the importance of the Partners for Life program in the Quebec health network and its effectiveness in educating young people about depression and suicide. Researchers Lesage and Moubarac also concluded that the program meets all the criteria of a good scientific program for promoting health:

  • The program was developed following extensive research on the target group of young people of the third, fourth and fifth years of high school
  • The program is based on theoretical models that have been closely studied in the literature on mental health, which demonstrate the direct link between depression and suicide in adolescents
  • The program’s message was created to attract the target group and its needs with dynamic, interactive sessions
  • Offering workshops in classrooms during class time is considered the best way to reach young people and grab their attention

See the scientific report


Dr. Richard Boyer, Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin

To evaluate the program, two studies were conducted by Dr. Richard Boyer, a researcher affiliated with the Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin.

  • Study no 1: Evaluation of the program’s implementation (pilot project)

Student responses have enabled the Mental Illness Foundation to improve the content and strategies of the program. Since this study, the program has evolved every year. After the program team visits a school, officials and facilitators are invited to conduct a self-assessment. This tool allows the program to suit the needs of schools and students today, ensuring the program remains current.


  • Study no 2: Evaluation of program’s effects on knowledge and attitudes among young people

The results showed that the program has significantly increased knowledge about depression among young people and changed their attitudes about consultating necessary resources in a positive way.

Review the results of these studies (PDF in French)


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"You showered the students and staff with great information so that in the future they may be able to help themselves or other people. Talking about mental health issues really helps to break down the stereotypes and the isolation that is felt by so many."

- Youth Counsellor, Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau, February 2014


"There is a definite need among adolescents and the professionals who work with them to become better informed on this topics. Your seminar provided an excellent forum for them to ask questions. Thank you and your wonferful animator for such informative and valuable workshop."

- Principal, Laurier Senior High School, Laval, February 2014


"The mechanics of the presentation were fluid and flawless. The message was clear, concise, and informative. Great analogies! Wonderful job!"

- Grade 10 Student, Laurentien Regional High School, December 2013


"As a school counsellor for over 30 years, I would highly recommend this school-based program. Both students and staff appreciate such important knowledge and resources. There is a great need for your service, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to offer it to my students. Thank you again, and I look forward to working with Partners for Life again next year."

- St. Thomas High School, Montréal, November 2013


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  • Tel-jeunes
  • Kids Help Phone
  • Association québécoise de prévention du suicide
  • Suicide Action Montréal
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada
  • Center for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS)

And thanks to all the schools who support the Partners For Life program year after year!