If you search “depression” on Google, you might be prompted to take a questionnaire to ascertain if you’re potentially suffering from the mental illness.
This is all part of Google’s new partnership with the US National Alliance on Mental Illness (Nami), which is currently only being implemented for US users. Google users searching for “depression” will be offered the option to “check if you’re clinically depressed.”
The organisation said “by tapping ‘Check if you’re clinically depressed,’ you can take this private self-assessment to help determine your level of depression and the need for an in-person evaluation. The results of the questionnaire can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor.”
Nami were clear on the fact that while the tool is designed to help people, it shouldn’t be used to self-diagnose. The questionnaire is not attempting to replace mental health professionals, but has been devised to encourage people to seek help early on.
The mental health assessment prompt will appear in the Knowledge Panel on Google and will consist of 9 self-assessment questions. These will ask you to check in with yourself, posing questions about how often you have “little interest or pleasure in doing things” and how often do you have “trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?”
The Google product manager, Vidushi Tekriwal, was quick to reassure that anyone who fills out the test won’t have their answers saved, nor will there be any consequential marketing directed towards them as a result.
However, there are some critics to the new initiative. One psychotherapist labelled the idea as “terribly redundant” and instead proposed that Google directly refer potentially depressed people to the necessary resources such as a chat box linking them to local psychological services.
What do you think? Does this sound like a useful tool?
Note: For those of you out there that are suffering silently with a mental illness, did you know that if you text 07725909090 when you are feeling really depressed, a crisis counsellor will text with you? Many people don’t like talking on the phone and find it difficult to open up to friends and family. Some people would be more comfortable texting. It’s a service run by Samaritans.