More focus will be placed on dealing with mental health problems at an early stage under government plans.
The new mental health strategy for England promises an extra £400m for therapies, such as counselling, to increase access to them by 60% by 2015.
Ministers said this would help address mental health issues with the same intensity as physical health.
But campaigners warned the wider cuts being made across the public sector risked undermining the drive.
The strategy covers services for all age groups, but there is a particular focus on children - 10% of whom develop a mental health problem at some point.,/p>
It is widely acknowledged that there have been significant improvements in adult services over the past decade, particularly in relation to the support available in the community.
In contrast, the network of child and adolescent mental health services - funded jointly by the NHS and local government - have been criticised for having long waiting lists and patchy provision of services.
The problems have led to children being treated by adult services in some places. The transition from child to adult care during the teenage years is also considered inadequate.