Google on Thursday announced that it has changed its way of responding to people who are searching for information on depression. Now, when users search for depression Google will allow them to check if they are clinically depressed by using a clinically-validated screening questionnaire. The feature, launched for users in the US, is a new self-assessment feature added to the popular search engine. The self-assessment is private and is meant to help encourage people who might be depressed to seek medical help.
The test is known as PHQ-9 and is a series of nine questions about the subject’s mental health. "The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor," National Alliance on Mental Illness statement added.
When a person Googles the word "depression", they will also see a box atop the results on the mobile, which Google calls a Knowledge Panel. The box contains information on what depression is, what its symptoms are, and possible treatments.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, that affects more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. More women are affected by depression than men. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
“We believe that awareness of depression can help empower and educate you, enabling quicker access to treatment. And while this tool can help, it’s important to note that PHQ-9 is not meant to act as a singular tool for diagnosis,” National Alliance on Mental Illness said in a guest post.
(With inputs from PTI)