Thousands of extra therapists and nurses will be trained this year to run counselling centres to help people who have lost their jobs to cope with depression and anxiety, it has been revealed.
Using an advice network in doctors' surgeries, Jobcentres and NHS Direct, people in need of help will be referred for specialist counselling.
Announced by work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, and health secretary, Alan Johnson, the scheme highlights government concerns that the recession could lead to an increase in the number of people with mental illness.
A further £13 million is to be given to improve services and another 3,600 therapists and hundreds of specialist nurses will be given training to set up centres in every primary care trust offering counselling.
Mr Johnson said: "In the current economic downturn, the potential exists for more people to become anxious or depressed and experience lower levels of mental well-being.
"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."