Google starting to prompt users with a quiz if it thinks they’re depressed

24 Aug 2017

Image: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Google users in the US will now be prompted with a questionnaire if they search for the term ‘clinical depression’.

Google is hoping to use its dominance in the online search world to help those who feel they might be depressed, and try to get them the help they need.

As part of a partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Google users in the US who search for the term ‘clinical depression’ on mobile devices will be presented with a questionnaire that will try to determine if the person has depression.

The set of questions are based on the PHQ-9 standardised test, which is generally used to see if a person could be unknowingly experiencing the condition, though it is not 100pc accurate.

GIF: Google

Making people aware of depression

Rather, the end goal of the project is to raise awareness of depression, particularly among the younger generation, as only about 50pc of people in the US who have depression actually undertake treatment.

In a Google blog post, Mary Giliberti, CEO of NAMI, said: “We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression, and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life.”

It is unclear as of yet if Google will roll out this tool to other parts of the world.

The search giant is not the first in Silicon Valley to use its sway online to help people overcome mental health issues.

Last year, Facebook announced it was to expand its suicide-prevention tools to include an expanded set of options for the at-risk user, from reaching out to a friend to contacting helplines.

Instagram, another company owned by Facebook, revealed its own set of tools, which include allowing friends to flag a post if they think a person might be going through a difficult time and needs support.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic