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Redefining mental health support for people who live with bipolar disorder.


Founding Product Designer


Prototyping, Interaction Design, UX Research,
Data Visualization, UI Systems, Illustration


Figma, Adobe Photoshop

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PolarUs is a research-based mobile app created to improve the quality of life for people living with bipolar disorder (BD). It was used as the foundation of a clinical study testing the efficacy of app-based mental health interventions. 

As the founding product designer for the PolarUs app, I led end-to-end design, including user research, building component systems, creating prototypes, and everything in between. Using a human-centered design approach, I advocated for a well-rounded data collection experience that added value and meaning for users in addition to meeting research requirements for the study.


01   Empathize

Listening to the insights and stories shared by individuals who have lived experience was crucial to understanding the impact of stigma against bipolar disorder.

02   Simplify

Designing to simplify research data and streamline quantitative surveys made daily mood monitoring less intimidating and more intuitive.

03   Reframe

With an analytical and research focused team, it was important to reframe the development process with user experience front and center while still balancing logistics for the study.

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10%  improvement in Quality of Life with bipolar disorder

After a 12-week clinical evaluation of the PolarUs app, there was a 10% improvement in Quality of Life for 150 participants living with BD across North America.

Qualitative insights from focus group interviews

Throughout the design process, I led semi-structured interviews with a focus group of 8 people living with BD. I explored their shared mental health experiences and types of support that would be most valuable for them. 

Overall, the focus group shared similar struggles with staying motivated and often had doubts about whether or not they were moving in the right direction with self-managing symptoms. Individuals also suggested that lots of encouragement and positive visual cues would be most valuable for mental health support in an app.

Visualizing Quality of Life in the PolarUs app

The PolarUs app is centered around the Quality of Life (QoL) scale, which is a questionnaire that measures wellness in life areas specific to BD. The QoL scale was the clinical study’s main measure of efficacy, so the QoL survey and its life areas  needed to be adapted into the mobile app for data collection.

I designed the PolarUs Orb with a collection of 14 QoL icons, which served as the app’s main focal point and a functional graph that visualizes Quality of Life among all the life areas.

Daily data collection was a key part of the research study, so I designed the app’s daily check-ins to be sleek, enjoyable, and rewarding as an adaptation from the original QoL web survey. Users first receive a reminder notification with a unique affirmation, transition into a mood and sleep slider, and finish with the QoL survey.

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Early stages of measuring QoL data (original survey)

PolarUs Orb design — adapting the original QoL concept for mobile use with added icons for each life area

QoL survey design for PolarUs — streamlined flow from notification into daily data collection process

Reframing notifications as positive encouragement

Since lack of motivation was a shared concern among the focus group, I designed the notification experience to be more empowering with a daily affirmation feature.

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Daily Affirmation
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Daily Affirmation
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Daily Affirmation
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Daily Affirmation
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The addition of daily affirmations reframed the ordinary reminder notification into positive encouragement and supported a consistent data collection for the study. Users shared that they felt more motivated to complete daily check-ins with the affirmations as a calm, rewarding moment before the QoL surveys began.

Creating safe spaces for growth & vulnerability

I designed interactive graphs with colorful UI to display Quality of Life scores in a meaningful way. I wanted to create a safe digital space for individuals to view their mental health metrics without feeling overwhelmed.

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daily graph
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monthly bar graph
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Bar graphs were selected over line graphs for smoother tactile function on mobile screens

Simple graphs display the ebbs and flows of users' QoL over time, designed to highlight their mental health journey as a whole

Minimizing cognitive load for mental health strategies

The PolarUs app offers hundreds of research-based strategies, which can feel overwhelming to choose from. I wanted to minimize users’ cognitive load as much as possible and make the list of strategies feel more approachable and less intimidating to explore.

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Card First Iteration

Initial Card Design

Final Card Design

Card Third Iteration

After rounds of iteration, I designed a strategy card that prioritized focal points more effectively with illustrations and better use of spacing. Simple visual cues made strategies easier to quickly browse.

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