Michelle Peretz

I am a product designer passionate about combining behavioral insights with strong aesthetics to create delightful user experiences.


Hack Mental Health, February 3-4, 2017

Aham means “self” in Sanskrit.
It represents the personal, inner process of healing.

Duration: 24 hours 

My role: UX Researcher & Designer

Tools: Sketch, InVision, Qualitative Interviews

Challenge: Create a product or service that utilizes technology to aid mental health care. 

Solution: Aham is an app that helps you track, visualize and understand your mental health journey. 

ideation & RESEARCH

Through ideation sessions, discussions about our knowledge of mental health as well as qualitative interviews with therapists, behavioral scientists and those with lived-experience, we identified three main pain points not currently being addressed by existing products.

Identified pain points in the mental healthcare process: 

  1. Difficulty recalling specific feelings and emotions during therapy.

    • During therapy, some individuals may try to recall events in the last week. Though this seems simple, it can sometimes be quite difficult. Sometimes their mind blanks, sometimes they know something happened but when prompted further they can't fully recollect the feelings, thoughts, and potential reasons.

  2. Difficulty communicating mental health experiences with others.

    • Mental health is a long term journey with ebbs and flows - and for those who are unfamiliar with mental health afflictions, it can be difficult to explain that journey just using words. Many indicated that some kind of visualization would be helpful in bridging a conversation.

  3. Lack of client-clinician coordination.

    • Through our interviews, we learned that the mental health field can sometimes be tech averse. However, there is a real possibility to utilize mood tracking apps to facilitate therapists in preparing for and tailoring sessions based on client feedback through the app.

Ultimately, we identified an opportunity to create a tool that allows users to map their mental health journey day to day, practice techniques learned in therapy, visualize their overall process, and make the most of their therapy sessions.

Enter: Aham. 

Ux design

Below are some of the main challenges and considerations we faced while designing, and our proposed solutions: 

  1. Building a daily habit

    • Problem: The effectiveness of behavior tracking apps requires a daily commitment and effort to inputing necessary information.

    • Solution: After speaking with behavior scientists and discussing effective techniques in other products we decided to incorporate color customization, and changing home-screen content throughout the week when users open the app. This reduces the redundancy of the experience, and allows users to personalize the app how they see fit.

  2. Capturing the necessary input & deciding on copy

    • Problem: Many behavior tracking apps bombard users with information, or require them to input too many pieces of information. Additionally, asking for too many inputs means we are increasing the amount of time individuals spend on their phones.

    • Solution: Our ultimate goal is to ask the minimum amount of questions necessary that allows us to still provide users with valuable insight into their behaviors. We consulted mental health professionals about what kinds of questions would be most important to ask, and the elements they suggested were most important. This included labeling feelings and writing thoughts down to identify thought patterns.

  3. Engaging and meaningful visualizations

    • Problem: Capturing data through a tracking app is great - but how do we visualize mental health?!

    • Solution: We decided to represent user inputs in three main ways - daily (including specific data inputs), weekly (to see trends throughout the week before therapy sessions), and yearly (to visualize frequency of certain feelings over the course of 12-months). Additionally, we adopted the Spotify Year in Review model of provided high level trends to users.

  4. Client-clinician coordination

    • Problem: How do we include mental health practitioners in this process?

    • Solution: Our therapist platform will start as an email before each clients session, showing their trends during the previous week.

the Final Design

Aham is an app focused on your personal mental health journey: 

  • Through a series of prompted and manual check-in's, Aham asks users to label their feeling, identify a potential reason, and write their thoughts and methods of management.

  • This data is compiled into weekly, monthly and yearly visualizations that represent their own mental health process.

  • Aham also contains a mental health toolbox with anything the user finds helpful in managing their feelings. This can include anything from quotes from therapy and videos of loved ones offering support to playlists and comforting photos.

  • Additionally, individuals can use Aham to share their mental health journey with loved ones through visual aid that bridges the conversation and foster connection.

  • Aham provides therapists comprehensive email before each therapy session. With this email, therapists can review their clients weekly Aham check-ins, identify patterns, and receive feedback about which techniques are most effective for that specific client.

What are the benefits of Aham?

  1. Lowers the barrier of entry for individuals just starting therapy or finding a new therapist since they have their mental health history depicted through Aham's visualizations.

  2. Facilitates therapy sessions by helping the client reflect and recollect, and allowing the therapist to better

  3. Reduces the stigma of mental health - whether an individual is in therapy or not, Aham normalizes the experience of mapping your entire mental health journey and allows everyone to better understand the ebbs and flows of life.



This was one of my favorite hackathons to participate in - I loved the unique opportunity to combine my passion for mental health with design. My main goal in participating in this hackathon was to practice my skills in both user experience research and interface design. I was able to conduct informative qualitative interviews, and enjoyed synthesizing insights and applying them to our designs for the user experience - both for users and clinicians. Furthermore, I also greatly enjoyed designing the actual interfaces and deciding on the overall look and feel of the designs - it was important to me to implement simplistic but engaging designs that fit the needs and use cases of the users.

Ultimately, I was really pleased with the positive responses we received not only from mental health professionals, but also from my peers in the tech field. I am truly proud of the work we accomplished in less than 24 hours, and am excited to see how I can expand this project in the future. 

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