Google is now in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, USA, to help users gauge whether they are victims of depression or not, reported Huffington Post.
Users who now Google ‘depression’ will get a gold standard questionnaire, and filling it out will help measure if one is suffering from depression or not. Users will be prompted with a clinically based “PHQ-9 test” at the top of their search results. If they choose to take the test, they will be asked standard assessment questions that can measure depression.
Google has been placing emphasis on mental health for a long time. It also stated that it wants to concentrate more on the “health and wellness space”, and has recently invested in a startup that turns smartphones into health diagnostic tools. People turn to Google for mental health information, and research shows that a growing number of people are now searching for health-related inquiries on the search engine.
For NAMI, the partnership with Google on this test is an opportunity for mental health awareness, Ken Duckworth, medical director of NAMI told HuffPost. “We want to get this information into people’s hands… so they can know if they should get evaluated,” Duckworth said. “Knowing that PHQ-9 score can help with that.”
In other words, offering clinical information developed by experts rather than relying on search results can help people get proper, vetted information. NAMI’s Chief Executive Officer Mary Giliberti points out in a blog announcing the feature:
“Statistics show that those who have symptoms of depression experience an average of a six-eight year delay in getting treatment after the onset of symptoms. We believe that awareness of depression can help empower and educate you, enabling quicker access to treatment.”
While the tool is useful to help people discover if they’re experiencing symptoms of depression or not, it’s important to keep in mind that Googling something should never replace seeing a doctor. It’s a first step ― not a substitute for an official diagnosis.
Duckworth hopes that the feature will give people insight into their own experiences, and reduce the stigma attached to bringing topics up in front of doctors. Nearly 300 million people worldwide live with depression and some of them may not even be aware of the severity of their symptoms or diagnosis.
“Depression is a public health crisis that many people don’t seek help for and many people don’t know that they’re walking around with it,” he said. “Mental health conditions are treatable and this is why getting information is useful. We want people to make better health choices for their lives.”
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