This week Ewan gives mental health well-being app Thrive a go.
When Charlie first contacted me about reviewing Thrive, a mental health well-being app, I was definitely interested from the get go. While I don’t think I suffer from mental health issues, I do have periods of time where I’m ‘down’. During these slumps I’m lethargic, have no motivation, withdrawn and generally a bit shit. I thought that Thrive could be useful in helping steady out these slumps, or helping pull me out of them if one was to hit. However, it never really delivered.
There are a couple of reasons for this, first off is the usability aspect of it. When I was sent the info pack it only ever mentioned the website, and provided links to the website to join up. At first I tried to do this on my lunch break at work. I joined up easy enough, but to launch the programme it had to download additional content. While I don’t know exactly how much content needed downloading (because it didn’t tell me), 45 minutes later it wasn’t done. As I was at work I abandoned ship. (A thought just struck me, why does content need to be downloaded for me to access a website???)
At a later date I used my laptop at home and stuck the process out. Despite my home laptop and internet being better than at work, it still took around 30 mins to get the website launched.
What followed was just… odd. The usability of the website is unusual. At first you have to select your mood, which at the time I was just annoyed at the lengthy load time. It provided a few generic options to click from such as ‘worried about work’ or ‘worried about finances’. Aside from being frustrated at my laptop I was in a general good place. For the sake of testing Thrive I exacerbated a few underlying issues to see where it would take me. And it took me… nowhere. There is an animation of an island with some calming music. Instruction on how best to use the ap for my mental health was unclear and not very well directed. I figured out what I did simply from clicking around and seeing what stuff does.
It did recommend I walk more and drink less caffeine. I drink 2 cups of coffee a day and exercise 4-6 times a week. Something went wrong there I think.
There are a few ‘games’ such as guided breathing, meditation and a ‘zen garden’ (which is just utterly pointless, in my eyes). I tried the guided breathing for 3 minutes and being honest I did feel calmed and relaxed. But then another realisation occurred – who would use this on their laptop? I’d feel too self-conscious to ever do this at work, for example. It was only then that I looked for the mobile version of the app (which I found easily on Google play). Up until this point I had no idea it existed.
I downloaded the app, which again took ages, and had another click around. But not for very long.
This leads on to my second reason for not really using it – I simply didn’t want to. Admittedly, during the period of time I’ve been testing Thrive I didn’t find myself in one of my ‘slumps’, but even when I did feel everyday tired, drained or despondent I didn’t find myself reaching for my phone to use the app. I never understood the how or why. How is this ap supposed to help me? Why do the methods they employ help? There was no justification for any of the tools, which would massively help me trust the app and possibly use it more.
I can see mental health apps work for some people, myself included in the right situation, but for me Thrive simply missed the mark with its coherence and usability. I’ll be deleting it off my phone now the trial is done, and don’t think I’ll notice its absence.