Quebec’s mental health services will get a $26.5 million boost, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette announced on Friday.

That money will not be a one-time deal but will be added on to the annual budget.

The additional funds will go towards improving support for those suffering from severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The money will be used for several different functions, with $15 million going towards funding teams that will ensure comprehensive follow-up for patients and $10 million going towards early intervention for youth showing signs of mental illness.

The remaining funds will go towards crisis services and “quality maintenance,” said Barrette.

He estimated the money will be able to help 5,500 patients who are suffering from chronic mental disorders. 

The minister said the funds will not go towards emergency rooms but does anticipate it will cut down on the number of mental health patients visiting the province’s ERs.

“It’s been very clearly demonstrated that if you have those kinds of teams that are active in the field, with patients, with society, it will significantly reduce emergency room visits,” he said.

In December, Barrette announced $100 million in additional funds for the province's health services, including $30.5 million for mental health. On Friday, he said the province has been able to invest more into that area due to the provincial government's balanced budget. 

"In order to have additional money to invest, we have to have the possibility to get that money, which goes into the very essence of why we need to balance public finances," he said. 

- With files from CTV Montreal