Hotline Use in the United States: Results from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys

Kimberly B. Roth, Hannah S. Szlyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crisis hotlines are a fixture in providing mental health services to individuals experiencing mental and behavioral problems in the United States (U.S.). Despite this, and the growing need for easily-accessible, anonymous, and free services amidst the suicide and opioid crises, there is no study reporting U.S. national prevalence and correlates of hotline use. Data on n = 18,909 participants from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES), a group of three nationally-representative, population-based studies, were used to estimate the prevalence of lifetime and past 12-month hotline use. A series of logistic regression models examined sociodemographic, clinical history and service use correlates of hotline use. Lifetime and past 12-month hotline use was estimated at 2.5% and 0.5%, respectively. Being female, having a mental or behavioral disorder, experiencing suicidality, or interacting with other formal and informal sectors of the mental health service system were significant correlates of use. This study provides the first national estimates of crisis hotline usage in the U.S. Hotlines are more likely to be used by certain sociodemographic subgroups, but these differences may be due to differing psychiatric history and service use patterns. Efforts should be made to ensure that crisis hotlines are being utilized by other marginalized populations at high risk of suicide or overdose amidst the current public health crises in the U.S., such as racial/ethnic minorities or youth. To evaluate the role that crisis hotlines play in the mental health service system, national surveys should aim to monitor trends and correlates over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-578
Number of pages15
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Crisis hotlines
  • Epidemiology
  • Mental disorders
  • Mental health services
  • Suicidality


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