Paging Dr. Google

Finding a therapist is HARD. So hard, it takes people an average of six to eight years after they have symptoms of depression to start treatment. Now you can turn to someone you already trust and see on the regular, Dr. Google.

Here’s how it works: When you Google “depression” or "clinical depression" on your mobile, the knowledge panel pops up in the search results. If you check the box “I have clinical depression,” it will lead you to a quick screener with questions about your mood and sleep and eating habits. (It’s the PHQ-9 if you’re into knowing that.)

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Because only half of everyone with symptoms of depression actually talk to a doc, anything that will get the conversation started is major. Depression screening is a required as part of the ACA, so doctors should already be asking patients a few general questions about their mental health. Emphasis on should.

It remains to be seen if a) people who search for “depression” are the ones that need support b) If Google users will actually check the “I have clinical depression,” and c) if a positive test will make people want to start treatment. But if it does work, this could be huge.

It’s a public health effort to get more people into treatment, and probably also an attempt to one-up big medical sites, like WebMD. Google says they are not storing responses, though you can bet they are counting them.

I’m down with anything that will make it easier people who are dealing with mental health issues get good help sooner, so overall this is a win.