Psychological therapies are to be made more widely available to sufferers of the most common mental health problems.
Health secretary Alan Johnson today announced a £170 million boost to expand so-called 'talking therapies' across the country.
Mental health campaigners have long called for better access to talking therapies and NICE recommends cognitive behaviour therapies are preferable to drugs for many common forms of depression and anxiety.
With extra funding now released by the government, Mr Johnson said talking therapies will be rolled out to 20 new areas next year, with all GPs able to refer patients within the next few years.
Mr Johnson said: "More than one in six people suffer from mental health problems at any one time. For many people prescribing medication is a successful treatment but we know that psychological therapies work equally well.
"Today's announcement shows the government's commitment to mental health. Improving access to psychological therapies will give people with mental health problems a real choice of treatment, helping to reduce dependence on medication."
The government hopes the funding will be offset by a reduction in the number of people claiming benefits because of poor mental health.
It is estimated 40 per cent of people on incapacity benefit suffer from anxiety and depression and GPs now spend a third of their time treating mental health problems.
By 2010-11, the health service will be able to spend £170 million a year on psychological therapies. Funding will be staggered, with £30 million made available next year, rising to £100 million in 2009-10.
The Department of Health anticipates 900,000 more people will now be treated for depression and anxiety, with 450,000 likely to be cured. This will result in 25,000 fewer people with mental health problems on sick pay or benefits.
Lord Richard Layard, co-author of London School of Economics' Depression Report, said the funding was "great news" and what campaigners had been waiting for.
He said he was "delighted" the government is now implementing professional guidelines on depression.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said the funding was long overdue.
He said: "Too often, people are left languishing on benefits rather than receiving the treatment they need to regain control over their lives."
The Liberal Democrats challenged the government to now pay the same attention to elderly care funding.