One of my good friends, who is currently applying to medical school, explained the basics of privacy in clinical settings to me. Her lab at MGH employs tiers of security that I found fascinating. Specifically, when researchers get permission to access a patient's history, psychological information is one of the hardest categories to access. A study can know all about your history of heart problems before they hear anything about your struggles with anxiety.
We had come to this conversation because of Affect's newest initiative, 1,000 Journeys. The project, affectionately nicknamed 1KJ, is ambitious and exciting with a fairly simple founding idea. We will interview one thousand people, publish some of their thoughts online to encourage conversation about mental health, and end up with a unique database of stories.
Unfortunately, seeing the project through is much more complicated than that. Everyone on the team understands that the interviewees must be open about very personal issues, so we are going the extra mile to make sure that the interview is as pleasant as possible. That means rewriting and revising the script many times over, doing practice runs with our fellow team members, and attending workshops.
We will continue to refine the process until we we feel ready to conduct interviews. We know that these questions aren't easy, but we are completely committed to making the conversation comfortable. If you are interested in participating in an interview, click here to learn more about the process. We are looking for people with all kinds of relationships to mental illness whether you are fighting it yourself, helping a loved one, or treating patients for it.