Update your app! Newness awaits...

Our developers have been hard at work on the latest version of MoodMission, which has now been released on Android and iOS. Among the changes, we have made many of the starting surveys optional. Up until now, these had to be compulsory due to the nature of the research we were using the app for. But now we are soooo glad that we can make them optional so new users can get to completing Missions even faster.

Among the other tweaks, we've added a small red dot counter to the home screen when you have a Mission in progress, and new Mission Complete screen.

The "I Need Help Now" option has been changed to "Other Support Options", because we now list a variety of alternate supports, rather than just crisis help lines.

As always, we are very keen to hear your thoughts and feedback on our work, so please leave any comments below :)

The Android version is here!

We are thrilled to announce that MoodMission is now available on Android. Download it today and leave a review to show your support.

A huge thanks must go to all who supported the Pozible crowdfunding campaign, and an extra special thanks to those pledgers who beta-tested the app and gave really helpful feedback for improving it.

From here we're going to look into some new exciting features, so stay tuned for those announcements.

Android Crowdfunding Success

Last week our crowdfunding campaign came to a close having hit the target to make it a success. A massive thank you to all who supported and shared the campaign. It literally could not have happened without you.

Our developers Spark Digital are now starting to build the Android version. A period of testing will follow, and the pledgers who claimed the "Test Pilot" reward will get exclusive access to the app. We will make feedback-informed improvements and aim for a release in February 2017.

International release and Android Crowdfunding

Following a viral post on image sharing site Imgur, there was massive demand for two things; for MoodMission to be available outside of Australia, and an Android version. In fact, several thousand people called for an Android version, so we have launched a crowdfunding page to make it happen. If we reach our goal of $8000 by November 22nd, we'll be able to make MoodMission available to the millions of Android users who could use its support.

And for iPhone, MoodMission now available all over the world!

We got to work and managed to make the app international. You can now download it now in the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and pretty much everywhere else.

If you're an Imgurian, check out the new post.

Mental Health Week and #myMoodMission

It's now mental health week (October 9-15) and we are joining in by launching #myMoodMission.

#myMoodMission encourages people to share the strategies they use when they're stressed, low, or anxious and want to feel better again. 

Take a selfie like the ones pictured below or share your strategies with the #myMoodMission hashtag. We're hoping this raises awareness about the types of things we can all do to improve our mental health and well-being.

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MoodMission accepted into Monash University Accelerator program

The winners of the Elevator Awards with the Generator staff and Professor Ian Smith, Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)

The winners of the Elevator Awards with the Generator staff and Professor Ian Smith, Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)

Last week David pitched MoodMission at the Monash University Generator Elevator Awards. He was lucky enough to be one of the five winners, securing a spot for MoodMission in the Accelerator program. This provides start-ups with $20,000 in funding and a series of valuable workshops. MoodMission was also a hit with the crowd and following a vote won the People's Choice Award! This won MoodMission a further $1000.

This opportunity will be used to pursue several goals for the project:

  1. Spreading MoodMission to help even more users through a social media campaign
  2. Pursuing development of an Android version
  3. Developing a system of personalised programs for specific problems, unlockable through in-app purchases. These programs will help users tackle problems like fear of public speaking, spider phobia, flight anxiety, and many others.

Father's Day

by David Bakker

This Father's Day, I want to give thanks to one of the big inspirations for MoodMission - my Dad. I would be lying if I said Dad wasn’t a huge part of why I got into psychology. Not so I could analyse him (although, it has been useful…), but rather because Dad is a clinical psychologist himself and his approach to understanding and helping others has always been hugely inspiring.

His contribution to MoodMission goes beyond just getting me into psychology. His way of explaining psychological problems as “problem-maintaining-circles”, or PMCs, was instrumental in conceiving of MoodMission. Dad is a rock-solid believer in evidence. He won’t do something with a client unless there’s good scientific research showing that it will help. This is why he is focussed on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which has the most evidence out of all psychotherapies for helping people with most prevalent mental health issues. CBT pays special attention to the things perpetuating psychological problems, because these are the things that if you change, you can stop the psychological problem from feeding itself. Dad’s PMC theory is a really useful way of explaining and exploring the maintaining factors of psychological problems.

Note: Notice how I’m using the term “psychological problems” rather than “disorders” or “diagnoses”. This is another strength of PMC theory, it doesn’t rely on problematic, stigmatising, fuzzy diagnoses, and instead rightly treats everyone like unique individuals.

So what is a PMC? Let’s say you’ve had a bad day so you come home and eat a whole block of chocolate. I think almost everyone has done this or something like it at some point. But this time half way through the block you notice how hopeless and saddening this is and you get hit with a huge wave of guilt. Thoughts run through your head like, “I’m disgusting,” “I have no self-control,” “I feel fat and it’s all my fault,” or “I don’t deserve to be happy”. Again, these reactions and thoughts are had quite frequently by a lot of people. But this time your way of coping with these distressing thoughts is by eating even more. This works temporarily, but soon enough, you notice how you’ve just eaten even more and this amplifies the guilt and the hopelessness and those self-hating thoughts. Just like this:

After a while your mood might influence your thinking in a broader way, and then you get stuck in this:

The great thing about breaking problems down into PMCs is it gives you options on where to break the cycle and stop the problem from spiralling. For example, you could challenge the negative thinking with a cognitive restructuring intervention. Or you might increase activity level by scheduling pleasant activities.

It also works for anxiety:

...for anger...:

...and actually any psychological problem:

There is literally an infinite number of PMCs, because everyone is different and everyone’s psychological problems are different.

MoodMission works using PMC theory by offering alternate coping strategies that will break the cycles. For example, you might feel down and MoodMission suggests that you do some exercise. By the end of your short exercise Mission, you’re probably thinking about something else, you’re feeling physically different, and hopefully MoodMission helped you have a little fun.

PMC theory is so good that I would be using it even if it wasn’t Dad’s creation. I just get the extra bonus of knowing its creator rather well. And having roughly the same beard.

So thanks Dad. Thanks for everything you’ve ever done for me, and thanks for a way of helping people.

 - David

 

If you want to learn more about CBT and PMC theory, check out Practical CBT: Using Functional Analysis, Problem-Maintaining-Circles, and Standardised Homework in Everyday Therapy

Guess who the author is…


MoodMission presented at Falling Walls Lab 2016 at the Australian Academy of Science

Earlier in the year David was fortunate enough to be selected to present at the Falling Walls Lab Australian final. On August 24th he travelled to Canberra and presented MoodMission at the Australian Academy of Science. The other presentations included innovations for absorbing atmospheric CO2, improving breast cancer treatment, bringing Uber to air travel, using games for medical education, preventing parasite induced blindness, absorbing toxic mercury, concrete that heals itself using bacteria, converting wool into edible protein, using interactive motion-sensing games to enrich orang-utan zoo environments,  and many more.

David presenting at the Falling Walls Lab 2016 Australian final

David presenting at the Falling Walls Lab 2016 Australian final

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin, dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.

Each year, the foundation supports scientific organisations around the world to host a Falling Walls Lab. This international forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals, known for their excellent work. Participants are given three minutes to present their research work, business model or initiative to a broad audience from science and industry, including a distinguished jury who selects the most innovative and promising idea.

David, Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, and Nobel Laureate and Vice-Chancellor of ANU Prof Brian Schmidt

David, Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, and Nobel Laureate and Vice-Chancellor of ANU Prof Brian Schmidt

Falling Walls Lab is a challenging and inspiring format for emerging bright minds, giving them a unique chance to become the next big success story in innovation. Since 2009, there have been 63 international Labs worldwide with over 1,000 participants. From more than 40 countries, 500 outstanding talents have participated in the annual Falling Walls Lab Finales from 2011 to 2015.

Presenters, judges, and audience

Presenters, judges, and audience

MoodMission is here!

After a long but rewarding development process, we are incredibly excited to announce that MoodMission is now available to download on the iTunes Store. Hit the button below and download it!

Special thanks must go to:

  • Spark Digital for their wizardry in building the app

  • Every single one of our Pozible pledgers who crowdfunded it into existence

  • Our beta-testers, who provided excellent feedback to make the app even better

  • The research supervisors for their valuable contributions; Assoc Prof Nikki Rickard, Assoc Prof Nikolaos Kazantzis, and Prof Debra Rickwood

  • And of course, all friends and family who have been amazingly supportive

Coming soon to the App Store...

The wait is almost over. The first publicly available version of MoodMission is now ready for upload to the App Store. This means it will be ready for download after a review period that usually takes about a fortnight. 

Over the last month or so we have been conducting beta testing and making tweaks based on feedback. For example, there are now some cool images for each of the exercise and yoga Missions.

We've also been lucky enough to collaborate with Smiling Mind on including some Smiling Mind mindfulness meditations as Missions. You can play the meditation right from inside MoodMission:

Stay tuned for an official release date... It will be soon!

14 Reasons Why MoodMission is a Super Mental Health App

While there are some apps out there that aim to boost mental health and well-being, there are many things that set MoodMission apart.

Please don't forget to pledge to our crowdfunding campaign. If we don't reach our target, we won't get to put these 14 reasons into action.

1. Targets both anxiety and low mood

Many apps aim to help people with anxiety. Others aim to help people with depression. Few can help with both.

Anxiety and depression are intimately related. In one study 85% of people diagnosed with depression problems also suffered significant anxiety, and 90% of people diagnosed with anxiety disorders suffered significant depression.

MoodMission targets the underlying problems shared by low moods and anxiousness.

2. You don’t need a mental health diagnosis to use it

Let’s say that one day you feel a bit anxious. You want to take care of yourself and you want to do something about it. So you go to the app store and pick out an app that promises to help anxiety. You start using the app, which then basically announces that you have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Or maybe you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The app isn’t sure about which specific mental illness you have, but it’s suggesting very strongly that you have some sort of psychopathology.

If you weren’t already feeling anxious, you are now!

Most psychological problems don’t need a specific diagnosis slapped on them for people to find help. MoodMission treats you as a person who is in a low or anxious mood, not as a diagnosis.

3. Based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is the psychological therapy with the most scientific evidence backing it up as the best option for lowering anxiety and reducing depressive moods. It also has the most evidence supporting it as an effective computerised therapy. MoodMission is built on this evidence-based foundation to give it the best chance of success.

4. Self-reporting of mood

A big part of CBT is helping people to objectively, unbiasedly record their thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. When you record things in this way, like how distressed you are on a scale from 1 to 10, it helps you develop a sense of perspective. This can have many mental health benefits, and helps MoodMission get a precise gauge of how things are for you.

5. Recommends activities to improve mood

Yeah, I feel low or anxious, but what do I actually do about it?

Not knowing this can be so frustrating. And not doing anything about your problems can instil a sense of hopelessness.

But actually doing something can both help the problem and help you feel good about yourself by boosting self-esteem.

That’s why MoodMission is built around activities – missions – that you actually do.

6. Tailors itself to you

Everyone is different. Different mental health strategies work different ways for different people. That’s why a good doctor or psychologist will ask a number of questions before suggesting any treatments – they want to tailor their help to your unique circumstances.

MoodMission adapts itself to you in a similar way. It learns from your past use of the app what sorts of things work for you and what sort of things aren’t as helpful, and then serves up more stuff that works.

7. Activities that you can do right now

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We often don’t anticipate feeling anxious or low. And we carry our phones with us basically anywhere we go. So what if you could have something on your phone to use to boost your mood or calm your anxiety, no matter where you are or what you’re doing?

MoodMission’s missions are designed so that you can use them right there and then. Some apps encourage you to do regular sessions or daily meditations, which are all well and good, but what about something to help when you actually need it. MoodMission offers that instant help.

8. Encourages activities that don’t rely on technology

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The one thing a mental health app should not do is become a crutch. MoodMission uses missions that encourage participation in the real world, off of technology, because that is where the best learning of coping and mood improvement skills can happen.

9. Provides mental health and psychology information

Isn’t it nice when your doctor takes some time to explain something to you in easily understandable terms? Not only does it make you less uncertain and therefore less anxious about the whole thing, but it also increases your motivation to adopt healthy behaviours because you now know why you should. You know the rationale behind it.

MoodMission explains the evidence and principles behind every activity so you can know exactly why what you’re doing is helping.

10. Rewards you

It can be really hard to find the motivation to do anything when you’re anxious or depressed. And it can be hard to do the right things to keep yourself well when you’re not anxious or depressed. That’s why MoodMission has used gamification - a fancy word for using game-based rewards, like points and badges. These are the same principles that work with lots of fitness tracking and physical health apps. We’re bringing them to mental health.

11. Reminds you to engage

Do you have apps on your phone that you don’t even remember downloading. Apps often get downloaded and used once or twice, but don’t end up in our routines of phone use. Providing little reminders helps MoodMission ask “are you OK?” and reminds you that help is only a mission away.

12. Intuitive, easy-to-use interface that does not confuse

Lots of mental health apps are great if you know how to use them. But how do you know how to use them? You need them to be intuitive and clear. MoodMission uses the latest design techniques to aid in this clarity and simplicity so you can get the most out of the app.

13. Direct links to helpline services

 
 

Sometimes things get really tough and you need to talk to someone. Research has found that people are a lot more likely to reach out and talk to someone if all they have to do is simply touch a button. MoodMission will also be able to tell if you have been low or anxious for a long time, and then suggest to you how you might get some support. This will help to prevent people from spiralling into depression and considering suicide.

14. Experimentally validated in a randomised controlled trial

How do we know that MoodMission works? Well, we don’t really. But we don’t really know if any of the apps available on the app store work. That’s because none of them have had studies published showing experimental data that they work.  MoodMission will use a randomised controlled trial to show that using the app can have mental health and well-being benefits. We will have the data to back up our claims.