A truth for you all to know about me: I Google everything. It might be the millennial in me or maybe something else, but if I don’t have an answer, I immediately search for it.
This is why for National Depression Screening Day, I Googled depression. Google and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a way for people to take the PHQ-9, a screening questionnaire that helps identify levels of depression symptoms, by searching “depression” or “clinical depression.”
So how do you do it?
First, you must search on a mobile device. Unfortunately, the option for taking the questionnaire will not come up on a desktop. Then, you click “Check if you’re clinically depressed.”
After a short statement about the PHQ-9 and privacy, the questionnaire begins. There are 9 questions where the answers are on a scale from “not at all” to “nearly every day.” The questions are how you have felt over the last 2 weeks about certain problems like “feeling tired or having little energy” or “poor appetite or overeating.”
Once you have finished, it will show you a number out of 27. I scored a 6 (image on the left) and on the right is what it looks like if you score a 27. There are some next steps about what your score means and what other people with similar scores are doing. For instance, mine says others with a score like mine find relief with things like exercise and getting enough sleep. No matter the Google says might give you some relief, it is great information to take to your doctor or counselor and open up a conversation.
But, what about next steps for Google?
That’s right. Google may have some next steps for me, but I have some for it too.
First, the desktop option has to be there. More and more people are accessing the internet through mobile, but some people do not have that available to them. So until everything is mobile, desktop options need to exist.
In the launch announcement, NAMI states that about one in five Americans experience depression in their lifetime, but only about half receive treatment.
So, my second follow up step for Google is location-specific resources. The notification to share your location with Google, I feel like (as someone with zero expertise in coding) is easy to do. The “_____ near me” search has gone through the roof this year. As long as the user decides to share their location, Google is saving them a step by providing localized responses. Even sharing location-specific NAMI chapters is a simple thing to make reaching out that much easier for someone.
Please remember that depression is complicated, so taking a depression screening today may not give you the answers you are looking for. It can, though, help you be honest with yourself and start a necessary conversation with someone you love or a professional. It can also make you more informed of what you may need to do next.
I, for one, will be taking my 6 with a grain of salt and perhaps a yoga class.