Tech giant Google is launching a tool to check whether you’re suffering from clinical depression. The tool will give users who search for the term “clinical depression” or other related terms an option to fill a questionnaire. The test will then assess whether the user is suffering from depression.
The tool is currently being rolled out for U.S. users only. The company announced on Wednesday that the new tool will check the probable level of depression of a user after they fill in the questionnaire, first asking them if they want to check if they’re clinically depressed. After a user fills in the questionnaire, the results are revealed in the form of a score, depending on the severity of the user’s depression. The results are not shared or stored. The company stated that the results would remain strictly private and will lead to an indication whether the user is in need of help.
The test is called “PHQ-9” and is created in collaboration with NAMI (the US National Alliance on Mental Illness). One of the sample questions on the test asks the user if they’ve had little pleasure or interest in doing things in the past two weeks. The answers are multiple-choice options. The test is made up of nine questions and will only set you back five minutes in your day.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the PHQ-9 is not meant to diagnose a problem. Rather, it’s meant to be the first step towards getting an appropriate diagnosis. The company believes that the results of the test will help users have a more informed discussion with a doctor.
According to Dr. Katy Kamkar, who works at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) in Canada, the test can be beneficial in raising awareness about mental health. Not knowing you need help is the biggest hurdles towards getting treatment, according to Dr. Kamkar. She added that this tool will possibly help detect problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. However, she told Global News that users should be careful with the tool and should not treat it as a diagnostic test.
This tool will perhaps be one of the biggest health-related developments on the internet this year. One in 5 people in America suffers from depression, according to NAMI. However, less than three look for help. This test is designed to encourage users who experience depression to seek treatment. According to the search giant Google, 1 in every 20 search queries are about health.