The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Google announced Wednesday, their plans to fight clinical depression. When you search for “clinical depression” on Google through a mobile device, an invite to take a questionnaire pops up.
According to a 2015 article found on the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention suicide is not only the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but depression affects more people in the U.S than heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
Those two facts alone, are staggering figures when you take into consideration the 323 million people who live in the country.
For now, NAMI and Google are limiting the Patient Health Questionnaire (PSQ-9) to Americans when they type in the queries in the Search field.
Depression is a mental health problem that many Canadians face daily. While our population of 36 million people is not as large as our neighbors, according to a study by Depressionhurts.ca 1 in 10 Canadians got through this illness at some point in their lives.
While the move by NAMI and Google is a positive step in the right direction, on the other side of this equation, I can see some privacy advocates sounding the alarm bells.
Typically when someone wants to find out about something, the usual response is to jump on Google to pull up a list of result.
Since its start in 1998, the search giant has collected and still receives a tremendous amount of user data on those that use their large selection of products and services.
It might be a little unsettling for some to know there is a possibility of prying eyes snooping on their private personal information. And in this case, very sensitive.
But however, many who go through depression often never seek or reach out for help.
They suffer on the inside, and sometimes for many years, they do so without letting their friends and family know about what’s going on within. Take Robin Williams for instance, who committed suicide in his home back in 2014.
It was a shock to the world, and many of us did not have or suspect he was going through a terrible ordeal, which went on for years.
It could be that just taking a quick questionnaire is all it takes for someone with depression to reach out for help during a crisis, which would be far better than the possible alternatives of never speaking out.
I can respect and applaud Google and NAMI for this latest move to help those who are in need and are afraid to talk about it.
Maybe this partnership between the two companies can be expanded to the rest of the world if it becomes a success in the USA.