Google Will Now Ask Users: “Are You Depressed?”

Aug 24, 2017

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

U.S.-based users who make depression-related queries on the search engine will receive the prompt: "Check if you’re clinically depressed,” and be invited to fill out a screening questionnaire.

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.

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans experience depression in their lifetime, but less than half seek treatment. Google told the Financial Times that one in 20 searches are related to health (it did not disclose the percentage that are depression-related). The search giant has been working NAMI since the start of the year to provide better and more reliable health information.

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The depression screening questionnaire is the latest in a series of health-related developments for the Internet giant. Google previously launched a location-specific pollen counter, a BMI calculator, and provides a box of verified information called the “knowledge panel” containing symptoms and treatments for a number of common conditions, including the flu, tonsillitis, and headaches.

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