Prime minister Theresa May has announced £67.7 million of funding for digital mental health services.
May made the announcement in a speech at the annual Charity Commission lecture in London on Monday, which outlined a broader package of funding and policy aimed at improving support for people suffering from mental health problems.
This would include new mental health support within secondary schools, in the community and within the workplace.
However, the policy announcement with the biggest price tag was £67.7 million for increasing mental treatment by "expanding digital mental health services".
This would included support for more "digitally assisted therapy" instead of face-to-face appointments and more online resources for people to check their symptoms. Some of this information is already provided through NHS Choices.
"Online therapy has the potential to transform the way mental health services are delivered by allowing people to check their symptoms, be triaged online and receive clinically-assisted therapy over the internet much more quickly and easily, assuming it is clinically appropriate," May said.
It is understood the funding will come for £4.2 billion technology fund health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in February last year.
May's announcement was made in conjunction with the publication of the Government's response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
That response confirmed officially that six mental health trusts will be funded become global digital exemplars, as first reported by Digital Health News in December.
It also revealed plans to develop six new digital tools focused on children and young people's mental health to be included the latest version of a health app library and changes to the NHS 111 system to improve the triage of mental health inquiries.
Responses to the prime minister's announcement was mixed, with Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, a former care minister and advocate for mental health, calling it a “puny response to a burning injustice”.
“Much of the additional £1.4 billion of funding secured for child mental health care is being diverted to prop up other services. This amounts to theft of money intended to improve the lives of vulnerable young people.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the mental health network at the NHS Confederation said government support for mental health services had been delayed and a "speed up" was still required.
“But we are very pleased that mental health is being accepted as a major priority going forward.”
In the past few months, NHS England has already moved towards more support for mental health digital innovations.
In October it announced it was looking for six to eight "digital innovators" to share in a £400,000 fund to speed up the adoption of their mental health-focused products..
NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group is one organisation that has already invested significantly in digital mental health services, spending £2.4 million for a service covering all of London.
The service includes anonymous online support to people so they can self-manage mental issues such as anxiety and low levels of depression, and information about mental health.