What are Google’s new online mental health assessment tools?
People commonly check on Google Search to research medical conditions that they suspect they (or someone they know) may have. In response to this, Google has launched a range of self-assessment tools that are designed to appear whenever a user in the US searches for mental health related conditions.
Depending on how this performs in the US it is likely this feature will also be rolled out to the UK.
Let’s take a look at how and why you may want to include this in the SEO strategy for your private clinic.
Are these online mental health assessment tools clinically approved?
According to Google, yes. They describe the tools as ‘clinically-validated’ and based on assessments commonly used by healthcare professionals. However, it is important to note that these tools have not been produced as a diagnostic tool, and Google describe these tools as being ‘For informational purposes only’ to help people understand their symptoms. Once the self-assessment has been completed, Google says that users are ‘always directed to seek additional guidance from their healthcare providers.’
This is important as it shows (quite rightly) that “Dr Google” doesn’t want to have the responsibility of diagnosing users. Google is, however, the first place users turn when they have medical questions and so it is important to align with what the search giant is doing.
Which mental health conditions do these new tools assess?
The self assessment tools currently available in the US are designed for the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postpartum depression
How do the tools work?
This is how the new online health assessment tools work:
- When users look up information related to mental health conditions online, the tools appear on Google Search.
- Once the user clicks through, they are presented with a short series of questions to evaluate the level of the symptoms.
- At the end of the assessment, the tool will provide a result that summarises the likelihood of the user suffering from the condition they were assessed for.
- Additional, non-commercial links are provided to direct users to additional resources that may be of use to them.
- Advice is given to always consult with a medical professional.
Image from Google, which provides a snapshot of the formatting for the self assessment tools.
Is it secure?
Answers given are not collected or shared by Google, so the assessments are private and secure. There is no data collected that makes the user identifiable.
Are these tools available in the UK?
The full suite of self assessment tools are currently only available in the US, but the depression self assessment tool is also available in Australia already, so we can assume it is likely the self assessments will be rolled out to other territories soon.
Although the tools are not available in the UK yet, the expansion into Australia suggests they could be introduced into the UK at a later date. Note that Google is not signposting users to specific clinicians, so this means it will be extremely important for your mental health clinic to be visible online anytime someone has completed a self assessment online and is looking for a follow up consultation. This may include optimising your website for terms such as ‘EPDS depression likely’ ‘screening tool depression likely’. It may also be worth demonstrating on your site your understanding that people may already have used self assessment screening tools before seeking further advice. You may wish to consider using language such as ‘Talk to us about your online mental health self assessment results’, or similar.
👉Being specialist providers of SEO service for private clinics we can quickly and accurately advise you on these and many other issues so why not contact Healthcare SEO to book a free, no obligation video review of your website or feel free to book a call at a time convenient to you.
Author: Geoff Meakin
SEO Consultant for Healthcare and Private Clinics