Mental health patients are waiting too long before receiving counselling or therapies, experts say.
A survey carried out by the charity Mind found that 12 per cent of 1,600 patients assessed waited more than a year for treatment and 54 per cent had to wait over three months.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, people should receive therapy within 28 days of their referral date.
Some ten per cent of those questioned said they had paid for private treatment because they did not feel they would get the service they needed through the NHS.
Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said: "It is far from acceptable that in some parts of the country people are still waiting over a year to access treatment.
"This must urgently be addressed if the government's commitment to parity between physical and mental healthcare is to be realised."
Despite Mind's findings, an audit from the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that things have improved since its first analysis two years ago.
It shows that the number of people receiving treatment within 13 weeks has grown to 92 per cent from 85 per cent.
However, 17 per cent of 220 services assessed still exclude older people from talking therapies.
Professor Mike Crawford, the college's director for quality improvement, said the results show improvements but more work is needed to ensure that people with depression and anxiety are given access to effective treatments.
According to Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, more than £450 million has been invested into the NHS' talking therapies programme. He believes is success has contributed to greater demand, which in turn has pushed up waiting times.
The Mental Health Foundation states that one in four people living in the UK will suffer from some form of mental illness each year, with one in five older people encountering depression.
Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.