The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives around the world. In addition to the lives lost to the virus, as many communities enter the second and third month under stay-at-home orders, there is a rising mental health toll, too. In a national survey released by the American Psychiatric Association in March, 36 percent of respondents said that COVID-19 was seriously impacting their mental health; 48 percent were anxious about getting infected; and 57 percent reported concern that COVID-19 will seriously impact their finances.
As a trained psychiatrist, I know firsthand the importance of bringing out into the open the issue of mental health. While it might be years between the first onset of symptoms and someone seeking help, the internet is often the first place people turn to find out more about mental disorders. To help address the emerging mental health crisis we’re sharing “Be Kind to Your Mind," which includes resources on mental wellbeing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whenever people in the U.S. search for information about coping with the pandemic, or on COVID-19 and mental health, we’ll show a public service announcement with tips to cope with stress during COVID-19. To raise awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing during these times, we'll highlight these resources on Google's homepage tomorrow.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to highlight a few other resources and tools across Google and YouTube that promote mental wellbeing.
Self-assessment questionnaires for depression and PTSD
When people search on Google for information about mental health conditions we provide panels with information from authoritative sources like Mayo Clinic that detail symptoms, treatments, and provide an overview of the different types of specialists who can help. On the info panels for depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we provide direct access to clinically-validated self-assessment questionnaires that ask some of the same types of questions a mental health professional might ask. Based on a person’s answers, these self-assessment tools provide information on risk, along with links to more resources. Results to these questionnaires are not logged. We hope they can provide insight and help people have a more informed conversation with their doctor. We will add more self-assessment questionnaires over time to cover more conditions.
Self-care content on YouTube
Over the last few months, YouTube has seen a 35 percent increase in views of meditation videos, and growing popularity of mindfulness and wellbeing content. YouTube is making videos like these and other mental health resources more widely available to anyone around the world, for free, by spotlighting channels and playlists that have wellbeing and mindfulness-focused content. Countless YouTube creators, like Dr. Mike and Kati Morton, educate their communities as they help reduce the stigma associated with mental health. YouTube is also launching relevant YouTube Originals, including a “BookTube” episode featuring top authors like Melinda Gates and Elizabeth Gilbert offering their best book recommendations.
Finding virtual care options, quickly
Because of stay-at-home orders and restrictions that limit in-person interactions, many mental health care providers (including therapists and psychiatrists) are now providing telehealth care, like conducting therapy sessions over video conference. To make these options easier to find, we now allow providers to highlight their virtual care services on their Google Business Profile. So now, when you search for a mental health provider in products like Search and Maps, you may see an “Online care” link that can take you to their virtual care page, or even schedule a virtual appointment.
While the stigma around mental health has lessened in recent years, many people still find it hard to reach out to get help. By providing access to mental health resources, services and information across our products, we hope to make it easier for people to seek help and receive proper care.