Personal Informatics in Interpersonal Contexts: Towards the Design of Technology that Supports the Social Ecologies of Long-Term Mental Health Management
Personal informatics systems for supporting health largely grew out of a "self"-centric orientation: self-tracking, self-reflection, self-knowledge, self-experimentation, self-improvement. Health management, however, even when self-driven, is inherently social and depends on a person's direct relationships and broader sociocultural contexts, as an emerging line of research is coming to recognize, study, and support. This is particularly true in the case of mental health. In this paper, we engage with individuals managing the serious mental illness bipolar disorder and members of their support circles to (a) identify key social relations and the roles they play in condition management, (b) characterize patients' complex interactions with these relations (e.g., positive or negative, direct or peripheral, steady or unstable), and (c) understand how personal informatics mediates these recovery relations. Based on these insights, we offer a model of this social ecology, along with design implications for personal informatics systems that are sensitive to these interpersonal contexts.