Personal crisis help services


I need help and I need it now! Wherever you are, whatever the time of day, and however bad it is, there is someone to call.

Crisis help
Talk about it… you’re not alone (Image: Brand South Africa)

Brand South Africa reporter

In this article:


Emotional well being

LifeLine Southern Africa
24-hour crisis intervention service. “Emotional First Aid station”. Free, confidential telephone counselling, rape counselling, trauma counselling, Aids counselling, and a range of other services. Not-for-profit organisation.

  • National counselling line: 0861-322-322
    Counsellors help callers with challenges such as trauma, suicide, and relationship issues.
  • Website:
  • National Aids helpline: 0800-012-322
    Run in conjunction with the Department of Health, this national toll-free helpline receives around 3 000 calls a day.
  • Stop Gender Violence helpline: 0800-150-150
    National toll-free helpline for survivors, witnesses and perpetrators of gender-based violence.
  • Directory of Life Line centres and programmes

Children in crisis

Childline South Africa
Assistance from trained counsellors for abused children, young people, and their families. Not-for-profit organisation.

  • 24-hour toll-free helpline: 08000 55 555
    Information, support and assistance to children and their families. Issues dealt with include physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, behavioural problems, legal advice and trafficking.
  • Website:

Child Welfare South Africa
The co-ordinating body for more than 260 affiliated child welfare societies, organisations and community outreach projects. It is the largest non-profit, non-governmental organisation in South Africa in the fields of child protection and child care and family development.

Jo’burg Child Welfare Society
Services Johannesburg and the broader community. Offers services to abandoned, abused and neglected children. Also facilitates adoption and foster care, as well as parenting workshops and training services.

Police Child Protection Units
The South African Police Service’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit Special police units investigate violent crimes against children and offer specialised services to child victims of crime. There are units around the country.

Women in crisis

People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa)
Gauteng-based organisation offering shelter, counselling and legal support to women in abusive relationships, rape survivors, survivors of incest.

Stop Gender Abuse
Crisis counselling for women who have been raped or abused, advice and support for people wanting to support women in need of help, legal and other options available for abused women and rape survivors. Run by LifeLine Southern Africa.

  • Toll-free helpline: 0800 150 150

Rape Crisis
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust works to prevent rape, offers healing to survivors, and works towards legal reforms that will ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. Services include counselling, court preparation, support groups, important contact numbers. Non-governmental organisation.

  • Counselling lines:
    • 021 447-9762 (Observatory)
    • 021 633 9229 (Athlone)
    • 021 361 9085 (Khayalitsha)
  • Website:

Alcohol and drug addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa
Worldwide fellowship for alcoholics supporting those choosing to be sober. Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

  • National helpline: 0861 HELPAA (435 722)
  • See the AA website for a directory of provincial contact numbers and local “meeting rooms”.

Al-Anon Family Groups is for the families and friends of problem drinkers, with a special section – Alateen – for children of alchoholics, and a group for adult children of alcoholics.

Narcotics Anonymous SA
NA is a non-profit organisation for recovering drug addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean.

  • National 24-hour helpline: 083 900 MY NA (083 900 69 62)
  • Website:

SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Sanca provides specialised and affordable prevention and treatment services for alcohol and other drug dependence. A national body established in 1956, it has independently operated societies and counselling centres in all nine provinces.

Department of Social Development’s Substance Abuse Line Offers support, guidance and help for people addicted to drugs and alcohol as well as their families. Run in partnership with the SA Depression and Anxiety Group.

  • National toll-free helpline: 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312

Mental health, depression and anxiety

SA Depression and Anxiety Group
Sadag campaigns to eliminate discrimination and stigma in the field of mental health and to support, educate and assist the public, patients and their families with mental health problems and issues. Provides information on depression, panic disorder, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar mood disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and an array of other psychiatric conditions – including those affecting children and the elderly, and suicidal behaviour. Can help you find a psychiatrist, psychologist, or GP with special interest in mental health in your area. Helpline staffed by trained and counsellors.

  • Suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393 (8am – 8pm, seven days a week)
  • Help line: (011) 262-6396 (8am – 8pm, seven days a week)
  • Website:

Family and marriage

Family and Marriage Association of SA
Famsa supports families through stressful situations: offers counselling and education to strengthen marriage and other relationships in the family. Assists with divorce, mediation, domestic violence, trauma, grief counselling etc. Famsa has 27 offices around the country.

Pregnancy, contraception and abortion

Marie Stopes Clinics
A government-approved health facility with clinics throughout South Africa. Offers safe abortions, family planning services including birth control, pregnancy tests, male and female sterilisation, HIV testing and ante-natal services. Fees charged according to client’s income bracket.

Emergency Contraception Hotline 24-hour toll-free hotline for information and referrals on emergency contraception. Emergency contraception can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Although emergency contraception may be used up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, it should preferrably be started within 72 hours (three days) and is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours after sex. A public-private partnership between the provincial health department, the University of Stellenbosch, the World Population Foundation, and private clinic Medi-Challenge.

Reviewed: 29 June 2012

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