Commissioners must 'ramp up' capacity in psychological therapies to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of people being made redundant in the credit crunch.

The warning comes from the new president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, Frank Atherton, who outlines the threats of the economic downturn for public health staff in an article on this week.

"Health commissioners will wish to review the levels of access of their population to psychological therapies with a view to ramping up capacity in anticipation of significant increases in presentations related to stress, anxiety and depression," he said.

Mr Atherton warned recession would widen inequalities, saying the health secretary "may need to provide further and stronger measures".

But he also said health organisations could respond to the downturn by cutting their carbon footprints through car sharing, flexible working and home working schemes.

Read Frank Atherton on the financial crisis and public health