Google Australia has reported that search interest for "What is depression?" reached its highest peak in more than a decade in March 2020 in Australia -- during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure Australians are viewing only "trusted information" on their condition, Google Australia has teamed up with Lifeline Australia and Black Dog Institute to introduce an online self-assessment tool to help individuals evaluate their mental health levels and direct them to the appropriate support services.
See also: Twitter and Australian Red Cross band together to launch emergency search prompt
The online tool is a nine-question self-assessment questionnaire based on a "clinically-validated" questionnaire called Patient Health Questionnaire-9, according to the blog post jointly penned by Lifeline Australia crisis services and quality head Rachel Bowes and Black Dog Institute associate professor Jill Newby.
"This questionnaire is used by healthcare providers to evaluate someone's level of depression and identify resources that would be most suitable to their needs," they said.
"After completing Google's new self-assessment, people can see their risk for depression as well as connect with evidence-based resources, crisis hotlines, and additional support from our teams at Black Dog Institute and Lifeline."
The tool, however, is not aimed to be used as a medical diagnosis, Google said, adding it does not collect or share answers or results from the self-assessment.
Over 3 million Australians live with anxiety or depression, while one in five will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year -- and roughly 60% will not seek help.
In April last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed one million mental health telehealth consultations had taken place since the federal government announced on 29 March 2020 it would be fast-tracking digital alternatives to in-person medical care.
The online mental health services were aimed at helping Australians get through existing health concerns and those that have been brought on by the global crisis, with the digital capability fast-tracked from 10 years to 10 days.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IN AUSTRALIA NEEDS HELP CONTACT ONE OF THESE SERVICES:
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- QLife on 1800 184 527
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