The government is to offer psychological help to millions of people facing unemployment, debt and potential relationship breakdown.
The government will invest an additional £13m in the initiative, which will offer talking therapies and a new network of employment support workers.
The extra funding will provide a faster roll-out of talking therapies, with services beginning to be available in all areas by 2010 improved online advice and a dedicated NHS Direct phone line whose health advisers will be trained to spot callers who may be depressed as a result of economic problems.
Additional employment support workers will be linked to the talking therapy services, providing job support for people with common mental health problems, including helping them back into work.
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.
“No one should be in any doubt about where to turn. That’s why I am going faster and further to make sure that services are in place to support people affected psychologically by the recession,” he said.
“The NHS as a whole will be better equipped to recognise these issues and refer people to appropriate treatment and support.”
The Department of Health has admitted that there is not yet any indication that the economic downturn is having a negative effect on disadvantaged people in the workforce, and the number of people on incapacity benefit is continuing to fall.