Warning About Online Screenings

As the whole world has moved to being virtual, many of you may have searched for something like a depression screening online as a first step to determining if you need some assistance. I’m not saying that is wrong, but as Dr. Grohol points out, be careful with which website you decide to use. Some of them may just be trying to sell you treatment, no matter how you score:

The person who took this screening doesn’t have depression. Depression, as a clinical disorder, can only be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional — not a screening tool such as this. So a recommendation to get treatment right now is completely inappropriate. Even more inappropriate is the recommendation for online counseling.

Why are they recommending online counseling, specifically? Because apparently this website was setup solely as a referral funnel to one of the large online counseling services. The website owner gets a referral fee every time someone signs up through this page.

His experience on this site, which was one of the top ranked according to Google, which would indicate that Google is falling a bit short in it’s efforts to find sites with expertise and authenticity, should serve as a warning for any site that we may be visiting. Whether you’re looking for a real screening tool, or looking for reliable mental health information, or wanting to share good information to your social connections, pay attention to the website you’re on. Actually look at the site, make sure it’s a person or organization you can identify, and ask yourself if they have either a vested interest in getting you to believe something, like you need immediate treatment, or if they are completely unidentifiable and offering “expert advice” on a website that shows no connection to the subject, maybe think again about trusting what they have to say.

At the very least, ask yourself, why are they writing this? What is their goal, and am I in agreement with that goal? In this case, a depression screening tool that tells everyone they need online therapy, which they just so happen to get a fee for every new person referred? That’s pretty obvious, assuming you take a minute to look at the details.

Dr. Grohol provides some of those details in his article. I’d recommend learning what to look for.

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