Fighting Depression Is Just a Few Clicks Away

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Fighting Depression Is Just a Few Clicks AwayKaren Schwartz
February 1, 2018

Technology is trying to help people get better access to mental health information and depression-related resources. New search features on Google are directing people to assessment tools, and

Think you might be depressed? Now you can Google that.

Even though about one in five Americans experience depression during their lives, only about half of the people who suffer from it receive treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In August, Mary Giliberti, J.D., Chief Executive Officer, NAMI, wrote in the Google blog about an initiative aimed at raising awareness around clinical depression.

NAMI and Google worked together on the recent feature, which offers people searching “clinical depression” on Google mobile a quick way to click through to PHQ-9, a self-assessment screening via questionnaire that will give them information about their potential level of depression.

And this is just one of the many tools out there aimed at putting technology to work to fight depression. New startup Revolutioner is promoting a program that has people listening to short recordings, with the sound technology supposed to stimulate brain waves and help them achieve a more preferable balance.

There have also been a rash of more broadly mental-health focused Apps, which are convenient, anonymous, more cost effective and accessible for people who might need them. But there’s still some question as to their effectiveness and the circumstances under which they’re successful, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as concerns around privacy and regulation.

Healthcare companies seem to be getting on board. Industry giant Aetna in 2016 ran a pilot scheme to give employers digital programs that could help employees with depression, anxiety or substance use. The program reportedly used cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness practices, among other tools that psychologists use effectively as well, and sent emails with tips and encouragement. It also gave people the ability to choose to address their conditions privately or with others, depending on their preferences.

As Aetna reported in a June 2016 note, “Employees who used the digital program during the six-month pilot had reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms three times greater than the control group.”

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