Technology

Now Google wants to help you keep your mental health in check.


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People who search Google for “depression” on their mobile phones will soon have the option to take a screening questionnaire to test whether they are depressed.

The new feature, which Google spokeswoman Susan Cadrecha says “will be fully rolled out on mobile in the US over the next day or so,” isn’t meant to subvert a medical evaluation. It’s meant to steer you to one if you appear depressed.

The search giant has partnered with the US National Alliance on Mental Illness (Nami) to roll out the project.

The clinically-validated questionnaire, called PHQ-9, is a private self-assessment that will provide a score indicating the severity of the user’s depression. Google says the information will not be recorded or shared. Rather, the goal is for the results of the test to be shared with the user’s doctor to inform further conversations about diagnosis and treatment.

“While this tool can help, it’s important to note that PHQ-9 is not meant to act as a singular tool for diagnosis,” Nami said.

In a blog post announcing the news, Nami said the test should not be seen as replacing the insight of qualified mental health professionals – was instead a method to help people get the right help more quickly.

“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 organisation explained.

“The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor.”

Though the feature is currently available for US-based users only, it might not be naive to expect it to be available in other parts of the world.