About a year ago when I first moved to University, I suffered some serious mental health struggles; a struggle I’m all too familiar with. I was lonely with severe social anxiety. So in other words, I desperately wanted company but whenever it was offered to me I’d turn it down. That’s the horrible thing about social anxiety and depression, wanting to speak to someone to ease the depression but being too afraid due to the anxiety.
So I decided to do a quick search on Google for useful apps to help manage my mental health. The first thing that appeared on the list was Stigma: Mood Tracker and Journal.
My Experience with Stigma
The first thing that attracted me to this app was the ability to communicate with anonymous people whilst remaining anonymous myself. Thus, I was able to speak to people with much less anxiety and open-up without consequence so long as I didn’t reveal any personal information about myself. The app picks nicknames at random like “Pink Lion” or “Orange Dog” etc. etc. to retain anonymity.
Another great thing is that people on this app come from all over the world. I’ve spoken to people mainly from around America and Europe. The great thing about connecting from people from varying time-zones is that if you wake up at 3am for example, more-often-than-not there’s someone that will reply.
There’s also groups that you can choose whether or not to join. So far, I haven’t found the groups very helpful as people quickly lose interest and stop responding to messages. I never really know what to say and there always seems to be a new person entering the group so the conversation never seems to stray from “Hey guys” or “Welcome :)”. Perhaps there could be something done to ensure the groups engage with each-other more.
Another thing I like is the ability to journal. I’m not going to show you my journal entries LOL, but I’ll give you a screenshot of the community page where people have decided to share their journal entries. You can choose to keep your entries private or share with the community, it doesn’t really matter either way as no one knows who you are when they read your journals and they’re also unable to comment on your journal entries. However, I thought that giving the option for people to reply could be helpful to some users who want others to help, comfort or give advice on their problems. Although, some people, like me, may not want replies on some of their journal entries, so I think it may be helpful to offer the option as to whether other users can comment or not.
Another useful feature is the mood graph. You used to be able to select your mood from a list e.g. Happy, anxious, sad etc. But it seems now that it uses facial recognition to analyse your mood (as I just figured out when trying to screenshot an example). This is pretty snazzy but I also feel like a bit of an idiot if I’m trying to post a journal entry in public as it doesn’t seem to give me the option to skip facial mood detection.
As a result of mood tracking, there is a graph and colour chart that allows you to track your mood. This is especially helpful for people like me that are suffering with mental illness as it allows you to acknowledge your progress and I find it encourages me to progress and work towards obtaining more green colours that signal a positive mood rather than the oranges or reds which signal a negative mood.
Also, one of the best things I’ve found about this app is how much the creator himself (Dan Seider) communicates and engages with those that use the app. You can even send him an email (although I can’t remember how you do this). He also makes sure all members know about the Stigma Facebook pages where he allows people to share ideas and opinions and creates polls regarding what new features people would like to see. I think this idea really makes Stigma stand out from the crowd as it is portrayed not just a community but a family.
And finally, the pass-code! I was especially hoping this would be a feature when I got the app and luckily, it was, as I probably would have not used the app without it! I wouldn’t want my little brother or best friend looking through my journal entries and reading through all my deep dark secrets and my emotional rants!