Mental health campaigners are urging the government to invest in voluntary providers as part of a £170m spending boost for talking therapies.

The government announced the extra funds to support 900,000 people suffering from depression and anxiety, cut the amount of people on incapacity benefit, and free GPs' time.

There will be 3,600 newly trained psychological therapists to help reduce average waiting times for the treatments from the current 18 months to just a few weeks.

Mental health charity Mind welcomed the money, but said it was important to support those already working in the voluntary sector.

'We need to see the NHS working with these existing voluntary services, and utilising the existing therapists,' a spokeswoman said.

'Many already work in the private sector and may only need conversion training to meet the standards required for the NHS.'

There is concern over how much extra training will be needed to deliver the services. Mind is calling for a fair system of regulation, which the Health Professions Council is looking into over the coming year.

Professor Chris Thompson, director of healthcare at the Priory Group, also highlighted the need to invest in training.

'Delivery of the welcome programme needs to be managed in an efficient and cost-effective way, to guarantee fully integrated provision,' he said.

'In particular, we must ensure these new therapists are sufficiently trained in offering a range of high-quality therapies which are tailored to individual need.'

The money will be spread over the next four years, with£30m available in 2008-09 and more than£100m in 2009-10.