Going to university can be a challenging experience for many young people. Coping with a large number of changes, meeting new people, managing finances, living somewhere new and dealing with an increased workload all contribute towards students struggling with mental health issues during their time at university. My Mind applies the psychological ownership framework to help students manage their mental health more effectively and feel more confident tackling the problems they face.
There are four main stages when using My Mind. The process is inspired by Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT) that is intended to help people prepare themselves to handle stressful events with a minimum of upset. It consists of four phases - Conceptualisation & Skill Acquisition, Rehearsal, Application, Follow Through. These stages are in practice used more generally, here they are focused specifically on creating and utilising coping strategies.
To minimise the negative connotations a ‘coping strategy’ has, it is referred to as a ‘Ritual’ in the app. To empower the user to utilise the rituals and stick to their routine, My Mind aims to encourage the feeling of ownership over the Rituals, and in extension the user’s mental well-being.
The feeling of ownership is associated with a sense of stewardship or care for an object. The opposite is also true: leased cars, bikes and appliances are treated more harshly in life than things people actually own. Presumably, this is due to a feeling of ownership. My Mind increases the feeling of ownership over a coping strategy by utilising the three ownership routes as defined by the Psychological Ownership Theory: self-investment of time and effort, intimate knowledge and control.
Four Stages of My Mind:
1. Conceptualisation & Skill Acquisition
The user is presented with benefits of healthy coping mechanisms and what constitutes them in an interactive way. They can also read and learn from students on their course about what worked for them.
Users are then encouraged to create their own mechanisms based on this information. This gives the user control over what they want to do and is enhanced by the ability to transform the coping mechanism tab in the app to their liking. Ownership over the mechanism is promoted through self-investment of time and effort into coming up with a coping mechanism and also personalising it in the app.
Users are encouraged to think about and state how they are feeling before and after each ritual so that they can assess its effect.
4. Follow Through
Based on the user-reported emotions before and after, the app calculates how effective the mechanism was. This provides the user with intimate knowledge about what works for them and to what degree. It prompts the realisation that their actions influence how they feel - they are in control of their immediate mental state.