The government is stumping up £400 million to help give patients with mental health problems better access to psychological therapies endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

At least 25% of the population will be hit with a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and some may find it surprising that mental ill-health is actually the largest single cause of illness in the UK, representing up to 23% of the total burden of ill health in the country.

Under its new No health without mental health strategy, the government has laid out plans that it hopes will transform the mental health and well-being of the nation, with a stronger emphasis on early intervention and prevention to help address the underlying causes of mental ill-health.

The £400 million investment is central to the plans, helping to extend the availability of a range of psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counseling for depression, and interpersonal psychotherapy for those who need it.

“The NHS will no longer focus its attention on treatment alone - but will move towards early intervention and prevention to deliver outcomes for patients which are amongst the best in the world," noted health secretary Andrew Lansley.

According to the government, extending psychological therapies to all those with mental health problems should help one million people recover from their condition by 2014 and 75,000 people live normal lives returning to work or education. In addition, the strategy will help save the public sector over £700 million in healthcare, tax and welfare gains, it said.