Medical crises are not always physical in nature. According to the South African Federation of Medical Health, approximately 20% of South Africans suffer from a psychiatric illness, making psychiatric disorders the third highest contributor to the local burden of disease, after HIV and other infectious diseases.

Despite this alarming statistic, there is a distinct lack of services catering to emergency psychiatric care – a glaring gap which Akeso hopes to fill with its Psychiatric Intervention Unit (PIU).

Intended to service the community at large, the Unit consists of a hotline coupled with a vehicular response unit.

The hotline is manned by experienced counselling staff, who are trained to contain and manage the immediate crisis, provide transportation and arrange the required admission to the nearest Psychiatric Clinic, if so required.

If the caller is in crisis, the intervention vehicle is dispatched, but if it is not an emergency, the caller is transferred to a registered counsellor for counselling and an appropriate referral.

Once on the scene, the intervention vehicle transports the patient to an appropriate facility, either public or private, depending on patient capacity.

The PIU currently has two vehicles operational in Gauteng, and one in Pietermaritzburg. The group is applying for the registration of a response vehicle in the Western Cape, and is looking to expand nationally.

Because Akeso Clinics firmly believes that the PIU is a necessary public service, it is available free of charge to anyone requiring psychiatric intervention.

To access this 24-hour service, please call 0861 HELP US (4357 87) or email info@akeso.co.za