Managers have welcomed new funding to support people experiencing mental health problems as a result of the credit crunch.

The government has announced a£13m package of measures aimed at helping unemployed people experiencing depression or anxiety get back to work.

Measures

The package includes:

  • faster rollout of talking therapy services around the country throughout 2009, with services beginning to be available in every area by 2010;

  • training for health advisers on a dedicated NHS Direct phone line to spot and refer people who might be experiencing depression due to economic problems;

  • employment support workers linked to every talking therapy service, providing job support for people with common mental health problems and helping people get back to work;

  • more training for primary care staff, helping them to recognise mental health problems that could be due in part to the economic downturn.

Savings

In addition, primary care trusts will be encouraged to use up to£80m of savings made by the NHS from the temporary reduction in the rate of VAT to commission services such as debt advice and family counselling.

NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett said: "This initiative, which will be critical in providing early help to people in difficulties as we go through a recession, is both needed and welcome."

The funding will enable NHS organisations to invest in staff to further improve access to psychological therapies, he said.

But he warned finding therapists to do these jobs, especially those with higher levels of qualifications, would be "challenging".

"It will also be necessary, therefore, to target those areas in greatest need and sort out the funding implications beyond the period this package covers," he said.

"Further and faster"

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: "In the current economic downturn, the potential exists for more people to become anxious or depressed and experience lower levels of mental wellbeing.

"If someone is feeling down after losing their job, then the best solution is a new job and we're helping people to find them wherever possible. But in some cases, depression and anxiety can be a barrier to getting another job.

"No one should be left in any doubt about where to turn. That's why I am going further and faster to make sure that services are in place to support people affected psychologically by the recession."