How to access public mental health services in South Africa

Enzo Sinisi, a clinical psychologist and practising psychoanalyst in Cape Town shares an in-depth look at how to access public mental health services.

South Africa (16 July 2020) – If you have reached the point where you know you need help, but you cannot access private health care and you aren’t sure where to turn next, then this article is for you. We will look at: 

  • What brings people to counselling and other mental health services?
  • What if you do not want to or are not able or ready to meet with a mental health professional?
  • How do mental health services in the public health system work?
  • How do you find nearby services?
  • In an emergency, what should you do?
  • What if a family member or friend needs to go to the hospital but refuses?

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If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger - 

please do not use this page.  

Our Emergency Numbers can provide you with immediate support.

Grace Counselling offers short-term, goal-focussed lay Christian counselling** and our counsellors are trained to this end. 

Our counsellors cannot counsel within the scope of any mental health diagnoses / addictions / major depression / legal issues. 

They work within their skills to assist you to work through any life-issues you may be facing. 

If they feel you need further assistance, they will recommend a referral. 

**Lay Christian counsellors are volunteers trained in Christian counselling [they are not psychologists]. 

They will come alongside you and help guide you toward a healthy relationship with God and offer Biblically-based tools and support.

We offer Biblically-based lay counselling at our Ballito, Cornubia and Riverside Campuses, and also online.

We are a donations-based service to the community [where people can afford], so we do have a waiting list.

Please note the following before logging your counselling request form:

  • If you agree to counselling at Grace, you will need to be able to attend weekly one-hour sessions, same day and time each week, for a period of 6-9 weeks.

  • If you need immediate sessions, remember to look at our associate professionals who will be able to offer sessions in the meantime if needs be. Some medical aid benefits may cover these sessions. Alternatively contact LifeLine on 0313122323 or SADAG 24-hour toll free counselling line on 0800456789.

  • We unfortunately cannot counsel minors under the age of 18 years, but please see our help for children. If funds are an issue please connect with the UKZN Psychology Clinic 0312607425 / or connect with ChildLine on 0800 055 555.

We have free Support Groups for :

Let's Just Talk! - for all those affected by anxiety and depression

  • Thursdays 1830-2030 at Grace Family Church Riverside Campus
  • Grace Family Church Ballito Campus - contact 063 528 5129 or mail us for meeting times
  • Depression and Anxiety support online on Wednesdays with Focus on the Family on Zoom - register at

Addictions Recovery Support for those struggling with substance abuse / addiction and their family and friends

  • Mondays 1830-2000 at Grace Family Church Riverside Campus
  • Tuesdays 1830-2030 at Grace Family Church Ballito Campus
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays online on Zoom ID 464717982 Password Recover
  • Thursdays 1830-2000 at Grace Family Church Cornubia Campus

Please also see other emergency numbers that could also help.

Counselling needs:

  • For marriage counselling, we may first assess both individuals to ensure that individual counselling is not needed prior to marriage counselling.
  • For premarital counselling we recommend couples connect with the pastor / church marrying them for sessions / classes. If there are issues in the relationship that need to be resolved, we can however assist.
  • For grief counselling, apart from logging a counselling request below, please see our Grief Resource page or head to to find groups / online meetings. Please also look out for the Grace Grief Course on our Courses page.
  • For trauma counselling please connect with North Durban Victim Support on 066 483 8589.
  • For addictions recovery counselling please mail You can also download the Project Exodus Addictions Recovery App.

If someone you know needs counselling, they can mail us on   

If you need counselling and can commit to weekly one-hour sessions for a period of 6-9 weeks, please complete the following online form:

Counselling Request Form   

Please do not complete this form on behalf of another person.