Google started collaborating with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to facilitate education on clinical depression by putting a questionnaire into its search tool on mobile. Whether using the Google app or the mobile web variant of the company's service, searching for "clinical depression" will now yield an information card that tells a bit about the illness and has a clickable link labeled "Check if you're clinically depressed." Giving that link a tap will take you to a short questionnaire, built off of NAMI's Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9). Its inventory consists of nine questions, as its title implies, and will give users a rough idea of whether they are at risk of suffering from clinical depression.
The nine-question test looks for typical signs of clinical depression and includes general answers, so most people should have no problem navigating it. Your results in the test can help you determine if you should seek help, and if you do score high enough that clinical depression is at all likely, Google shows you some resources and instructions that can help you to start feeling better. The results screen will show tips that may help with the specific class of depression that your results indicate. It is important to note that this tool is only for self-assessment and advice, and does not in any way constitute professional advice or a medical diagnosis.
The point of the new service is to help raise awareness of depression, and help people who may have clinical depression come to terms with that fact and seek help. In America, data indicates that one in five members of the population will experience a depressive episode in their lifetime, but only half of those people ever end up getting the treatment that they need. On top of that, those who do get help normally have a six to eight-year delay between the onset of symptoms and seeking treatment. The stigma commonly associated with depression keeps many people who are suffering from it ever seeking help, many experts claim. This private, discreet test can serve as the first step for somebody who would otherwise not consider the possibility of clinical depression.