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Google will soon start asking some users if they are depressed

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Google will soon help users determine if they’re suffering from clinical depression, according to a Wednesday blog post announcing the move.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) announced it was partnering with Google on a project for the search engine’s U.S. users.

Users searching for information about depression will be prompted to take a questionnaire examining whether the condition afflicts them. “Clinical depression is a very common condition – in fact, approximately one in five Americans experience an episode in their lifetime,” NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti said in the blog.

“To help raise awareness of this condition, we’ve teamed up with Google to help provide more direct access to tools and information to people who may be suffering,” she added.

“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.”

Some Twitter users on Thursday voiced optimism about Google's new feature, while others were more skeptical about its impact on users.

Google will soon offer an option reading “Check if you’re clinically depressed” for users seeking information about the sickness.

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The search engine’s Knowledge Panel will link to the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), which is a clinically validated screening to determine what a person’s depression level may be. The PHQ-9 asks participants nine questions about their mental health, including if they have “little pleasure or interest in doing things.”

Giliberti said the test is a stepping stone for those potentially suffering from clinical depression to receive a diagnosis and treatment. “The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor,” she said.

“The PHQ-9 can be the first step to getting a proper diagnosis. And while this tool can help, it’s important to note that [the] PHQ-9 is not meant to act as a singular tool for diagnosis.”

Google product manager Vidushi Tekriwal told the Financial Times that participants will not have their test results logged by the company.

Tekriwal added that no additional advertising would target users who take the PHQ-9 as a result of the test.

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