Google launches new mental health search tool in Australia


Google wants to help you figure out if you’re depressed. The search giant has rolled out a self-assessment tool within search where people can see their risk for depression and easily connect to important resources, crisis hotlines and other support from teams at Lifeline and Black Dog Institute.

People who search for depression will be presented with information and a prompt to check if they’re clinically depressed. This will lead to a private nine-question self-assessment, helping them to determine if they may be clinically depressed.

This questionnaire is used by healthcare providers to evaluate someone’s level of depression and identify resources that would be most suitable for their needs. Australia is the first country outside of the United States to launch this depression screener on Search.

The goal is to allow a person to determine if they need an in-person evaluation and if so, provide them with insights that can lead to a more informed and effective conversation with their physician, according to Jill Newby at Black Dog Institute, which is working with Google on the initiative.

Newby said, we know that 60 per cent of people who experience mental health issues do not seek support, so it’s important to find new alternatives to existing support services. The Black Dog Institute values the role of technology can play in offering mental health support and connecting people to mental health care. Whether people have not sought help because of where they live, the high costs, or their own comfort levels, we commend the broadening of avenues available to people to understand what is happening to them, and to reach out when in need.

The PHQ-9 is a self-administered, clinically validated questionnaire that asks questions such as whether you have trouble concentrating on things or have little interest or pleasure in doing things.

Todd Mekjian, Product Manager at Google Health said, we’re delighted to work with Lifeline and Black Dog Institute to bring richer, clinically-validated health tools to Search in Australia. We hope this new self-assessment helps Australians better understand their risk for depression so they can get easy access to authoritative resources and support right when they are looking for it.

It’s estimated over three million Aussies living with anxiety or depression with one in five Australians are facing mental health challenges. Alarmingly, 60 per cent of these people won’t seek help.

Rachel Bowes, Head of Crisis Services at Lifeline Australia said, using a validated, trusted self-assessment tool is a great additional resource for those seeking help and Lifeline understands the importance of being able to access help confidentially and anonymously, which the screener enables.


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