Among the various mental health platforms, individuals still yearn for tech that empathizes with their needs. Most apps on the market provide “simple solutions” to mental illnesses, instead of adapting to help the user. Pacifica is unique in that it analyzes user response to help manage anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. However, in the current state of the app, users find that they get lost in its complexity and lack of personality.
I researched and designed this project in 3 weeks, during Accenture Digital's Apprentice Program at Intrepid Pursuits.
User Pain Points
I researched via articles, app reviews, and a few user interviews, consistent feedback included the following about Pacifica. Users' favorite features include logging their moods with journaling, and "Thinking Trap" CBT activities.
However, users also stated that Pacifica currently has long and unstructured app flows, doesn't give users specific tasks, and has a demotivates users with its look and feel. I then looked into other prominent apps in the space: Moodnotes, Happify, Headspace, and Reflecty. While these all have great intentions, they direct users to one goal: happiness, and nothing else. Logging a mood often ranges from feeling “Really good!” to "Awful…" without any combination or flexibility. Even users said how it oversimplifies their emotions.
I followed up with studies on mental health, to see how complex emotion actually is. The most up-to-date study states how emotion can be broken down to:
Happiness. Sadness. Anger/Disgust. Fear/Surprise.
It becomes complex in that humans can feel a mixture of all these emotions.
By having simple app flows, a unique user interaction, and an empathetic look and feel, Pacifica empowers users to show all sides of their emotions and actively understand their thoughts.
Concept: Humans are Emotional Blobs
Show Moods via Interaction
Emotion is fluid, and a user can quickly change emotions and feel a spectrum of them. Emotions, like blobs, can get complicated and wonky. Humans, like blobs, sometimes just feel like mush. Some users also mentioned how they struggle with verbalizing the way in which they feel. I began exploring methods of expression via interaction.
For users to show rather than tell, I considered different kinds of animated emotions and gestural interaction. Iterations included emotive shapes, reflecting Disney’s Flour Sack concept, to tapping and swiping to relay feeling.
The final interaction calls to therapeutic exercise, in which users can “paint” their mood(s). The feelings provided are the 4 foundational emotions.
After logging their mood, users can enter a journal entry to dive deeper into how they feel.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Activity
Look and Feel
A New Accommodating Personality
As users stated that most mental health apps feel “passive," it created an opportunity to shape a new feeling and interaction with Pacifica. For that reason, Pacifica feels more personal by emulating a the tone and verbage of a therapist. While the platform isn’t a replacement for a health professional, it should have a set of emotional and human characteristics that reflect one.
How the App Speaks and Behaves:
Trustworthy, approachable, and professional.
With research from interviews and therapist-written articles, no two therapist sessions will sound identical. It’s not the stereotypical chaise couch talk. How therapists speak depends on what the user needs and feels. Using natural language processing, Pacifica dictates verbiage that curates to the user.
Based on what the user logs into their journal, Pacifica responds with text that has analyzed user’s personality and needs. Displaying "How are you feeling?” every time a user opens the app, walks the line of the personality acting passive. Instead, the headers will be constantly living – changing over time, just like the users.
Kept Pacifica's main green, changing the tones to more calming hues. Other colors taken are assigned emotions.
Red: Anger. Blue: Sadness. Purple: Fear. Yellow: Joy.
Show What’s on Your Mind
Discuss Feelings & Understand Thoughts