Mental Health and Self Development Software

Recently, at the #mhsm tweetup, we talked about software for mental health. Specifically, we took a look at Optimism, an online (or offline) application for tracking mood. As far as I know it is the most comprehensive app for mood tracking. I am a bit disappointed in that there is no free portion of Optimism, the trial only lasts two weeks which unfortunately is not enough time to fully appreciate it. After the two weeks are up you need to fork over $40.00. I’m holding out for, and hoping to be involved in, some open source software that performs a similar sort of function.

I’ve never really used mood software extensively. I haven’t found anything as comprehensive as Optimism. But, while stumbling around the net after learning about Optimism a few weeks ago, I was surprised to rediscover a free online mood tracker at PsychCentral. It pales in comparison to Optimism, but it is free. Another interesting (almost intimidating) site is ChronoRecord I haven’t tried registering with this site as it involves both patient and doctor. feelingbetternow.com is a Canadian site that also restricts access via an Access ID provided by your insurer or doctor.

Other Related Sites (Goal Setting Sites)

Although mood tracking software is of interest, I am more fascinated by goal setting sites. Goal setting sites capture a wider audience, and such sites can be shaped in a way that is most fitting the user. Granted, they might not have the specifics addressed by mood tracking software, but they are my app of choice. The following are a few sites that I’ve been back to more than a few times:

LifeTango

While I’m looking for that perfect, free, comprehensive piece of self-development software I’ll probably continue to use sites like LifeTango. The name does not do the service justice. LifeTango is an online goal setting site with a social media slant. You can adopt the goals of another person and comment on their goals. You can also blog about your goals and break goals down with milestones. The site is very comprehensive, but I think that may be its undoing. There are too many things going on at LifeTango, and some of those things don’t function too well. Sometimes goals will or will not display in certain areas or goals fail to get updated or deleted. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoy the site. The staff at LifeTango are responsive too. That is hopefully an indication that things will be changing for the better there. LifeTango is free and functional on my run-of-the-mill cellphone using the Opera-Mini browser.

LifeTick

LifeTick is a flashy goal setting site. It’s pretty basic, but definitely worth checking out. It looks like it may develop into something more substantial in the future. LifeTick expects that you know what your core beliefs are. If you have identified your core values and beliefs you will enjoy and benefit from LifeTick. After inputting your core values, you create goals around those values. Unfortunately, LifeTick requires a recent version of Flash so it will not work on all cellphones. There is a basic free option available, and there is a 20.00 annual fee for full access to LifeTick. This hybrid pay structure is my favorite. The free option that lets you test and use the site as much as you want. But there is also a subscription which helps to ensure support and survival of the site.

Joe’s Goals

Joe’s Goals is a fairly basic site that tracks your goals in a way that reminds me of a token economy. You create goals, then give yourself a check mark (happyface) each time you complete a goal or part of a goal. I’ve had moderate success using Joe’s Goals on a low-end cell phone. Although Joe’s Goals has potential and is worth mentioning, it’s not a site that I’ll use extensively in the future. I think it might do well as an addition to an existing site, like Facebook, but cannot stand alone given some of the alternatives.

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First Post

Hopefully this will be the start of an inspiring and informative blog about life in general and the experience of mental illness in specific.

Being asked to speak publicly about my own personal experience has been the most self enriching and enlightening experience so far. Thanks to Trellis here in Guelph (and Susan specifically) for the opportunity. Speaking lead to a considerable amount of critical self-reflection. I have met a considerable number of people with varied opinions and approaches towards mental health. I have learned about the plethora of services in the community thorough speaking with people. Knowing what services exist and how to access those services is one of the most essential components of a recovery plan.

My life today is far beyond what I imagined when I started speaking publicly. That was nearly 15 years ago. When I had started speaking someone asked me what I thought my future would look like. I envisioned an under-employed, single, frustrated person. Happily, I can say the vision has changed dramatically. I’m married, happily. I’m happy in general too. The employment situation could always improve, but I am able to pay my share of the mortgage and such. I work full-time, I always have, except for a few short months during and after my hospitalisation. It seems a bit ironic, I never thought of a future where I would believe that hope is always present and hopelessness is always deceiving, but here it is.

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