The search engine Google will soon start a service that lets people check their mental health online. People searching for "depression" on Google's search page will get a link to a questionnaire along with their search result. The questionnaire will check to see if you could be suffering from depression. There are nine questions on the self-assessment. Google has partnered with America's National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on the project. A NAMI spokesperson said Google users can take the private questionnaire to help them find out how depressed they are. He said this could help people decide if they need to see a doctor. The questionnaire will initially only be available for Internet users in the USA.
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Google's blog said the questionnaire could help people get treatment for depression more quickly. It said: "Statistics show that those who have symptoms of depression experience an average of a six- to eight-year delay in getting treatment after the onset of symptoms. We believe that awareness of depression can help empower and educate you, enabling quicker access to treatment." However, Dr Aaron Balick, an expert on how websites can help people, said Google's questionnaire was the same as reading any online information about depression. He told the BBC: "A better approach would be…offering [people] resources and a direct line - perhaps a chat box - to local psychological services."