Mental health had a sharp downturn during Covid-19. People struggled with managing emotions and coping in increasingly unprecedented and strenuous situations. Many would benefit from gaining coping skills for unpredictable situations, even outside of a pandemic.
How can we teach people to use mental health tools to better cope with and manage emotionally charged situations?
Grounding Pebble is a physical device and mobile app that helps people emotionally regulate by learning, and practicing grounding and stimulus exercises.
This was my Bachelor’s thesis project and we had a full semester to do research. I researched what emotional regulation was, the techniques to do it, and how mental health professionals taught their patients.
This information is gated for patients through mental health services, although it could help people in their day-to-day lives before they are unwell.
My target audience is adolescents to adults, ages 14 to 30. Although these exercises are useful for all age groups, this age group deals with a lot of life changes, transitions and adversities that can be challenging to manage.
I researched health devices that came with a companion mobile application and stand-alone mobile applications. These products help with physical or overall mental health through meditation and creating healthy habits.
Based on my research I ideated a small device that someone can hold on their person at all times and can be more useful while they are in situations with elevated emotions. The device is small so it is portable and concealable. The user could squeeze the device to trigger light, audio and/or haptic feedback that would help the user maneuver through their chosen grounding techniques. The mobile application would teach the user about emotional regulation and techniques.
I sketched the physical device on paper, then mocked up prototypes out of clay to figure out the shape, size and thickness of the device.
I learned how to use Blender to create the 3D model of the device.
To help show the functionality of the device and think about the onboarding experience, I wrote a user manual for the device.
Along with the hardware piece of my idea, I created a companion mobile app along with it that would teach the user how emotional regulation works and visually the exercises they are learning.
Based on my user persona, I created goals and user flows to help flesh out the features and application experience. I created an information architecture of the application and listed its features of the application from them.
I sketched wires for the mobile application and initial sketches and ideation for the companion device. I then mocked up the wireframes on Figma.
Maintain the physical body to help the mind and emotional wellbeing by practicing grounding or stimulus exercises. Follow along with the Pebble's haptic feedback or lights to maintain a soothing tempo.
Save favourite exercises to a Pebble and edit as needed. Add more devices to keep in different bags and for assorted use cases.
Learn all about emotional dysregulation, how grounding or stimulus exercises can help and how the body affects emotions and vice versa.
I enjoyed being able to put a good amount of time into research at the beginning of the project. Unlike most school or hackathon projects, I was able to put a few months of research into the topic and this allowed me to find more solutions that I wouldn’t have initially thought of based on preliminary research.
Because I decided to make both a physical device and an application, I did not have as much time as I would have liked to create the final product. If I were to redo the project, I would do more user testing.