Why the NAMI + Google mashup is not the best

Why our Director Wouldn’t Take Google’s New Depression Test


At the end of August, Google decided to make available directly on its site (through a “knowledge panel”) the ability to take a depression screening quiz. We know a thing or two about online depression screening quizzes, because back in 1996 I put one of the first interactive depression screening quizzes online, long before Google even existed.

Here’s the thing… Depression screening tests — like the PHQ-9 that Google is now offering on its website — are super helpful tools to give a person a little more insight into the possibility of having a serious mental illness. 

What’s NAMI Doing Here?

I guess to make people feel better about taking a quiz that’s been available online for more than a decade, Google partnered with a non-profit that works in the area of mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

This is no dig on NAMI, but NAMI is not a scientific organization, nor does it have much to do with the PHQ-9. It is an organization that does great, amazing work from a family perspective of mental illness. But why only NAMI specifically? Why didn’t Google reach out to more than just one non-profit in mental illness to contribute to this effort?

There are literally hundreds of non-profits dedicated to ending the stigma of mental illness, and many who have done really great work in the past few years. For instance, Bring Change to Mind has really changed the modern conversation, in my mind, about mental illness. And Mental Health America Chapters and the Mental Illness Policy Org. has also worked very hard in this area of education and helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness. And that’s to name just two out of hundreds.

But only NAMI was chosen to help with Google’s effort, which seems a little unfair to me.