Fourth Industrial Revolution

Doc Google is helping to diagnose depression

A computer user poses in front of a Google search page in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014. Google has taken the first steps to meet a European ruling that citizens can have objectionable links removed from Internet search results, a ruling that pleased privacy campaigners but raised fears that the right can be abused to hide negative information.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - GM1EA5V06RA01

Google wants to help people keep their mental health in check through use of a private self-assessment. Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Natasha Bach
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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.

Image: WHO

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.

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.

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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Fourth Industrial RevolutionMental Health
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