At least one million volunteers will be trained to give mental health first aid as part of a Government drive to improve care.
They will be taught how to help patients who are very depressed, anxious or experiencing other mental health crises.
The courses will be free of charge and are likely to consist of a series of online modules and practical advice.
The prime minister says she wants to use government’s power as a force to transform the way the country deals with mental health
They will run from next autumn and the Government hopes that at least one million members of the public will sign up.
Ministers have invested £15million into the courses and they are part of a wider campaign overhaul the NHS’s mental health services.
Figures show that around one in four adults experience a mental health problem in any given year, most commonly depression or anxiety.
But there has long been a social stigma attached to mental health conditions and many people are unwilling to admit they are affected.
The courses will teach volunteers to assess their own mental health and as well as coping techniques on how to reduce stress levels.
Crucially, they will also be trained on how to help family members, friends, colleagues or strangers deal with mental health crises.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says everyone needs to help the NHS expand mental health services across Europe
Public Health England – the Government agency for tackling ill health – will now consult on exactly how the courses will be run and taught.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘I want to use the power of Government as a force for good to transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society, and at every stage of life.
‘Tackling the injustice and reducing the stigma associated with mental health conditions is a priority for me, which is why today I set the goal of providing one million members of the public with basic mental health awareness and first aid.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We’re currently undergoing one of the biggest expansions in mental health services in Europe, but we need everyone – not just the NHS – to play a role.
‘Public attitudes are changing – but would you know what to do if a work colleague had depression or you came across someone potentially about to kill themselves?
‘Mental health first aid gives people the skills to help others as well as protect one’s own mental health, so this is a very exciting step.’