Google and the National Alliance on Mental Illness have teamed up to connect users with help in combating depression.
When users search for the term “clinical depression” on Google when using a mobile device, they will see a “knowledge panel” with the question, “Check if you’re clinically depressed.” Clicking the option connects the user to the “PHQ-9,” which NAMI terms a “clinically validated screening questionnaire” to determine a likely level of depression.
NAMI worked with Google to help prepare for making the questionnaire readily available to people searching for help. According to NAMI’s CEO, Mary Giliberti, one in five Americans will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime, but only about half of those people will seek out treatment — and those that do generally wait six to eight years to seek out treatment. By activating a “knowledge panel” on depression via Google, Giliberti said, it is hoped the private self-assessment might point the user toward an in-person evaluation with a medical professional.
It’s just an online tool, however; not a substitute for a diagnosis by a medical professional, Giliberti wrote. Google officials told CNN that the information would not be stored and would be treated as sensitive and private.
Symptoms of depression include changes in sleep or appetite, loss of energy, lack of interest in activities, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms that last longer than two weeks.. It can be caused by trauma, genetics, life circumstances, brain changes and other medical conditions, including substance abuse problems.
Questions asked in the PHQ-9 include: “Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems: little interest or pleasure in doing things, feeling down, depressed or hopeless; trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much; poor appetite or overeating; feeling bad about yourself, or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down; moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed,” among others.
The feature should be rolled out within the next day or so on mobile devices, a Google spokesman told The Verge.
In May, a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting warned that the percentage of children and teenagers hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or actions has doubled in the last decade.