Quebec's health minister unveiled an action plan for mental health services Friday that includes an additional $70 million in spending.

Gaetan Barrette says the new plan focuses on prevention, treatment and support, with an emphasis on youth. The plan also calls for those with mental illnesses to be treated with dignity and respect, and to take the opinions and privacy of those with mental illness into account.

Barrette said he wants health care providers to concentrate on treating the young as quickly as possible.

"Science tells us that the sooner we diagnose those patients, we take care of them, the better they will be during their whole life," said Barrette.

He said the transition from being a teenager to an adult is also when many people with mental illnesses fall through the cracks. Barrette wants health centres to refer 18-year-olds to professionals in the adult system so they don't fall through the cracks.

Some new programs for teenagers are being created in conjunction with the Graham Boeckh Foundation.

At least $4 million in donations and funding will go toward creating safe spaces where teenagers will feel welcome to drop in and seek help.

The provincial budget for mental health is now $1.2 billion, and Barrette said this will be increased by $70 million in recurrent funding.

"There is the money that we can at this time guarantee that we can add to that sector and the money that we hope we will be able to invest coming from a better management of our system," he said.

Barrette said the extra funding should not be an excuse to be wasteful, and said better care depends on the efficiency of his reorganization.

"We need to manage more properly the system to make sure we can get economies of scale that will allow us to invest money," said Barrette.

Doris Provencher of the Quebec Association for Mental Health Care Rights said while she is happy to see mental health in the spotlight, she is worried the plan is too hospital-centric, pointing out there's no mention of community organizations or other kinds of support.

In an effort to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness, the province will launch a publicity campaign on Oct.18.