Yesterday I met with David from the School of counselling in London. He validated the self-reflection approach and suggested that I could send out flyers at the school of counselling if I wanted to disseminate work and get counsellors involved.


Today we met to discuss an ongoing project that Blaine from the OU has been trying to get off the ground for the last few months. He met an oncologist from the MK hospital by chance at the train station who said he was concerned about the way that the mental health of young women recovering from cancer is being handled by the healthcare system. Cancer treatment leads to mental and physical health changes that can impact upon the quality of life and social life and relationships. This affects young people particularly, who feel they are losing their youth and vitality too quickly. The dr said that the incidence level of cancer ion young people is growing.

Following this discussion, the Dr had asked Blaine about the possibility of developing a mobile application that would help doctors to track the mental health of this group during the months following chemotherapy. a kind of tele-health system. Blaine had gone back to the OUI and discussed it with Alistair Willis (Alistair had done some previous sentiment analysis of suicide notes work) and Anne DeRoeck. Together they had created a protocol for the study, along with a mental health researcher from the OU,  Mathijs (He is particularly interested in technology interventions with young people). They planned to use the mobile device to use biometric and behaviour measurements to determine the mental health of a person dynamically. If depression is detected, a request would be triggered for the patient to see a counsellor. This would be a pre-emptive measure. Helping the person to get help before severe depression sets in. In terms of technology capital, Blaine said that Ciaran has already developed an application that monitors when someone leaves the house and monitors their sleep.

This study proposal put me in the mind of the MONARCA system 

After Blaine had summed up the study, Marian suggested that there may be an issue with surveillance. She said that personally she would not particularly like her mobile phone activities to be traced remotely.


We then discussed the self-tracking project that we are working on at the OU. I described the sprite catcher and its functionality.

Here is an image of the latest prototype I have been working on –

Photo on 31-05-2017 at 11.54 #2.jpg

We then discussed the fact that our project and the proposed – tele-health, machine monitoring project have very different objectives and use very different technology to try and achieve them. The goal of the former is to give the user a sense of control. These of the device is a part of the treatment. By self-tracking their emotions and choosing to reflect upon them, the user is taking control and managing their own mood. The act of capturing a mood encourages the user to engage with their environment and their body and proactively think about their moods and what they might mean. Additionally there is an element of ritual. The user goes through a personalised process when capturing their mood, which helps them to focus their environment and act introspectively.

The goal of Blaine’s project, meanwhile, is to take the responsibility for mood monitoring away from the patient. The doctor and the computer system as being best placed to intervene when depression is setting in. The idea is catch the depression before it is too late and the patient is unable to help themselves.

I discussed the fact that a future iteration of the sprite catcher might introduce a bluetooth linked mobile phone feature for longer term visualisations off the data and for combining the self-tracking data with biometrics and behaviour monitoring from the mobile phone. This would be hybrid approach, where self-monitoring and machine tracking are combined. It could even include a telehealth aspect.

Practicalities of working with MK Hospital

There is a nurse at MK hospital who can help us to get on the inside. Research admin person. Kian Chin is the Oncologist who Blaine has had contact with Blaine suggested that he may have contacts for community support groups outside of the hospital. These groups might be a place where people suffering from depression following cancer treatment meet. Janet suggested that we should go ahead start exploring these channelsMarian suggested that this might be a route we could pursue in the longer term. Right now we need to run a small study which would have less red tape than wiring  with the NHS. Blaine said that he has channels that may help us to negotiate ethics issues more quickly than normal through the nhs, should we want top work with them.

At this point Blaine and “Janet left the meeting

Closing discussion

To finish, we discussed the place that philosophy might play in my phd. I said that I had just bought the routledge Guide to Conciousness and would be exploring some philosophical concepts, including phenomenology. Marian warned me that philosophy can be a can of worms and that I would need to justify the use of any philosophical construct I might use very well. She would be the measuring stick and would be touch to convince. Marion cited Shirley Booth as someone who has used phenomenography well.


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