Maintaining good mental health should be considered to be as important as keeping physically fit, a report says.
Figures suggest one in six people have had a mental health problem
The Institute for Public Policy Research said progress was being made with how it was treated and perceived.
But researchers said the issue needed to be brought more into the mainstream if it was to escape the stereotype of mentally ill people being dangerous.
The Department of Health said mental health was one of its top priorities along with heart disease and cancer.
The IPPR study called for specialists to be placed in GP surgeries, children centres and even libraries as part of its vision for mental health services in 2025.
The think-tank also called for less dependence on expensive medication to tackle common mental health problems and the creation of walk-in centres that deal with all aspects of a healthy life - mental and physical.
Report author Jennifer Rankin said there needed to be a greater emphasis on common mental health problems.
"There has been real progress in government approaches and public attitudes to mental health issues such as depression.
"However, mental health services have not kept pace with demand or improved as much as the rest of the NHS.
"They remain concentrated on a small group of people who are acutely unwell.
"This does not adequately help all those with long-term mental health problems or people with more common experience of depression and anxiety."
Figures suggest one in six people have had a mental health problem and nearly a third of GP consultations relate to mental health problems.
Cliff Prior, chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, said there were promising signs of change, but a "step change" in leadership and commitment was needed.
"For too long, mental health has been neglected and stigmatised, or overlooked by policy makers."
And Andy Bell, of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said the report was a "direction of travel" for everyone working in the field.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said the government was already focusing on primary care to deal with mental health.
"The report acknowledges significant changes have been made in mental health.
"There is a renewed focus on primary care and that is something we are looking at.
"The Public Health White Paper set out our view of creating a wellbeing service, not just a sickness service. It is something we want to achieve."