Tracking the mood

What was one thing that brought you happiness today?

That’s the first question in a journaling and mood tracker app developed by Anna Rosner, a sophomore at Albemarle High School. The app, called Feel Better, is aimed at helping others have a more mindful attitude in their everyday life and improve their mental health.

“I think it [mental health] is incredibly important, because you can’t do much if your mind and body aren’t both in states of wellness,” Anna said.

She started developing the app in early August and a few months later, submitted a demonstration video to the Congressional App Challenge, which is a coding competition hosted by members of the U.S. House of Representatives for middle and high school students.

Anna Rosner sits at her computer.

“I kind of just threw it together and submitted it,” Anna said with a laugh.

Although she may have thought she just “threw it together,” the judges didn’t think that. Anna won first place for Virginia’s 5th District and got a nearly perfect score.

The app works by asking you five questions each day. The first three ask you to list one thing that brought you joy, one thing you’re grateful for, and one thing you’re looking forward to. Then, the app randomly pulls a question from a second set and could range from asking you what the biggest challenge of your day was to listing the name of one person you helped that day.

The second part of the app is a rating of your mood for the day on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being poor and 5 being great. Each mood rating is color coded, which allows the app to give the user a visual representation of how their mood has changed over time.

Anna said the app has helped her be more mindful by giving her a reason to look for something good each day. “It’s something that you can think about during the day and you can be like, ‘Oh, this is something I’ll write down later.’”

And Anna has something to look forward to, too.

On April 8 and 9, she will attend the House of Code to be recognized for her award and share her app with members of Congress. Usually, all winners are invited to the Capitol to be recognized and present their apps, but due to the pandemic, the event will be held over zoom. Even still, for those days, the mood will be a 5.

For more on this story, see coverage by CBS19 and NBC29.