Google to ask users who search ‘clinical depression’: Are you depressed?

Google is rolling out a tool that will prompt U.S. users searching for “clinical depression” to take a self-assessment.

A screen will ask users to “check if you’re clinically depressed,” and lead to a questionnaire to test the “likely level of depression,” the company explained in a blog post Wednesday. According to Google, the results are strictly private and will indicate whether the user needs an “in-person evaluation.”

The series of questions, dubbed the “PHQ-9” test, were developed in partnership with the U.S. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

One sample question reads: “Over the past two weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problem? Little interest or pleasure doing things.”

Questionnaire-takers have multiple-choice options: not at all; several days; more than half the days; nearly every day.

The PHQ-9 test, which has nine questions, takes about five minutes to complete.

According to NAMI, the results are “not meant to act as a singular tool for diagnosis,” but a first step to getting a proper diagnosis.

“The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor,” the organization’s statement reads.

Dr. Katy Kamkar, a psychologist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, says the questionnaire can be useful in raising awareness of mental health.

“Not recognizing that help is needed is one barrier to treatment,” she told Global News, adding that this tool can help detect concerns.

Kamkar noted while the Google tool adds to the “diverse venues to spread information,” it’s important it is used in a “healthy way.”

While the test is not available north of the border, the Canadian Mental Health Association offers an online “Mental Health Meter.”

It asks users to answer questions relating to five areas of mental health — ability to enjoy life, resilience, balance, self-actualization, and flexibility.

Similar to the Google tool, this one offers a disclaimer that it is not a “substitute for professional advice,” and in-person help may be needed.