Mental health intervention unit

Medical crises are not always physical in nature. According to the South African Federation of Mental Health (SAFMH), 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 help address through its psychiatric intervention unit (PIU).

Intended to service the community at large, the PIU comprises a helpline coupled with a vehicular response unit.
The helpline operators and support staff will try assist any person seeking guidance, advice, or information pertaining to our services. They are trained to contain and manage the immediate crisis, provide transportation and arrange the required admission to the nearest psychiatric facility, if so required.

If the caller is in crisis, the intervention vehicle can be dispatched for the support staff to provide assistance, but if it is not an emergency, the caller can be appropriately referred for further assistance.

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

The PIU currently has vehicles operational in Gauteng and Nelspruit, as well as partnerships with established emergency services providers in other regions to provide safe patient transport.

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

To access this 24-hour service, please call the helpline on 0861 435 787. For more information you can also email