Patients with mental health problems in England are to be given greater priority for treatment when waiting time targets are introduced in April.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced at the Liberal Democrat conference that talking therapy treatments should be made available to those with depression within 18 weeks.
And young people with psychosis should be seen within 14 days.
The Liberal Democrat leader added that the extension of mental health care would be continued if the party was still in government after the next election.
He pledged to make similar targets for people with bipolar disorder and eating disorders.
The quality and availability of NHS mental health services have frequently been criticised and are often a source of extended absence from work.
This week the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Devlopment's annual Absence Management survey found that mental health problems were increasing among many organisations.
While a survey from Friends Life added that there continued to be a "culture of silence" in many organisations over mental health problems.
And last month the Chief Medical Officer used her annual report to call for a complete overhaul of the mental health policy in the UK.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "The truth is that wellbeing in mental health is one poorly evidenced strand of a much bigger picture, and I recommend that bigger picture to policymakers."
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