iOS App Review: Optimism

‘Optimism’. An interesting name for an app developed for the sole purpose of tracking data of those with mental health issues, isn’t it?

When I’m in a low mood, I have strange habits. One of them is downloading a copious amounts of apps to test to take my mind of potentially harming myself in some way. Having just acquired my first iOS, a 13 inch Macbook Pro Retina, I have taken to experimenting with iOS apps. This is exactly how I discovered ‘Optimism Mental Health Apps for Self-Tracking‘.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 11.21.27 pm

The purpose of Optimism is based fundamentally upon helping one to understand their condition through self-tracking of things which affect one’s mental health. The app itself is fairly simple: it delivers a stable set of daily variables to help construct patterns and identify signs of episodes. Thus, it then helps in the development of management mechanisms for mental illnesses.

Optimism App

One’s first question may be: why would I use an app to track my mood? Optimism tracks patterns. This allows you an insight into your condition, and allows you to gain information on how the condition works from an impartial view. By constructing patterns, detecting triggers and identifying symptoms, one can illustrate a fairly good indicator of what one’s mental health is like, and how one can create strategies or wellness plans associated with the condition.

Optimism engages directly with conditions of depression, generalised anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. This can be garnered from the initial options available to a new ‘client’ or user of the app itself. Having bipolar, I used the default setting available. However, what makes this app powerful is that you can optimise it for different conditions through the customisation of sliders, strategies, triggers and symptoms etc. This means it can be customised to the user’s specific condition, which may be singular, or a combination of many different conditions. This takes into account the fundamental principle that no mental illness condition is alike another.

What makes Optimism excellent is that it grants the user time to evaluate their own condition, then view it from an impartial, if not calculated view. This is good for a few reasons. Through further understanding of one’s condition, one can also have more control over their life, and thus, take a proactive involvement in their mental health. Furthermore, it helps in the construction of a wellness plan. With patterns in mind, one can anticipate an episode and take active measures to seek help and support when needed.

Apparently it is also popular with clinicians, but I’m yet to know what that’s like though I can see how it would be very helpful to understand and analyse and track a patient’s condition in a clean data manager.

Now, speaking from the technical point of view.

The iOS app is ugly, although it is also offered in an online version, which is much prettier, though a little bit laggy. However, despite it’s plain-Jane appearance and ugliness, it is simple, clean and clear. It’s almost impossible not to know how to use it just by looking at it. Because of its simplicity, the app itself works nicely.

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Optimism also gives the client the ability to synchronise their data to the Optimism Apps website so that if the data on their PC, Mac or smart phone is lost, it can be recovered. Unfortunately, it is clunky with a one-way (ie. upload OR download, not upload AND download) manual synchronisation system with user verification every single time. When you’re the only user of your PC, Mac or smart phone, it does get a little laborious, especially if you have mild paranoia that all your data will be wiped for no reason like I persistently fear.

Its graph generation does get a little slow if you’re looking at a larger date range (ie. a month compared to a week), but the data it produces is worth the wait. The graph is simple and understandable, if not also a little bit awesome if you love crunching numbers and data like I do (nerd-alert!).

Either way, it is an incredible app which I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to have a little more control over their life and brain like I am.

The verdict?

Optimism is an excellent app which gives enough analysis to allow one to understand their mental health more effectively. In doing so, it engages directly with the client’s condition and can be customised to specifically and proactively address their issue.

Optimism: 10/10

The app is free for clients, whilst also available in a paid version for clinicians at $39.00 (USD) per month, unlimited clients.

You can download Optimism through their website: http://www.findingoptimism.com/ 

This review is independent and has not been solicited nor sponsored by the reviewed product’s company or associated party in any way. 

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