Mood Diary

Teenagers and children with mental health problems often struggle to engage in therapy. Mobile Mood Diary (MMD) provides a private and convenient way for them to keep track of their symptoms and feelings on their personal mobile phones. It also provides them with graphs to help them and their therapist spot trends or discuss significant events.

Date: 2005-present
Collaborators: Gavin Doherty, John Sharry
Methods: Participatory Design, future workshops, paper prototyping, live prototyping, roleplaying, peer-user evaluations, expert reviews, clinical pilots
Tools: JavaME, Flash, php, mySQL, SMS gateway
Deliverables: Mood Diary system, Anger Diary system, Publications.

'Mood monitoring' is an important component of many intervention approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This involves people recording their mood at regular intervals, to help them to recognize the factors which may be impacting on their mood and how they have managed at times when they have felt depressed. 'Mood monitoring' is traditionally done as a pen and paper exercise, using a mood chart supplied by the therapist. Young people are notoriously poor at completing these charts or remembering to bring them to the next session. In this project a mobile phone version of a paper diary was developed.

MMD was designed with significant input from therapists. Background work involved surveys of therapists existing practice through questionnaires and in-situ interviews and a review of research in the area. The system was evaluated in 3 distinct phrases which allowed the system to evolve before clinical use. The initial phase reviewed 3 designs in working prototype format with peer users. The second phase involved a control trial of MMD against paper-based mood charting, the existing method used in clinics. This again was with peer users in schools. The final phase involved therapists introducing the system with clients suffering from a range of mental health problems.