A member of the SOVA team recently had the great opportunity to meet and interview Alyssa Cypher. Alyssa is the founder of ‘Inside Our Minds,’ which was previously featured on SOVA. During this interview Alyssa talked about everything from her own interviewing style to what motivated her to start this project.
What motivated you to start ‘Inside Our Minds?’
Alyssa shared that her own personal experience with mental illness was a major influence on her desire to start this project. She first began by getting involved in advocacy work and dealing with her own personal mental health struggles. One day Alyssa made the decision to write her own personal confessional on Facebook addressing her struggles with mental health. After posting her confessional online, Alyssa felt not only a sense of release from sharing her story, but in return she received a huge amount of positive feedback. This experience lead her to create ‘Inside Our Minds’ so she could help others share their own personal stories in their own words. The first interview posted on ‘Inside Our Minds’ on March 30, 2016.
What is the message you are trying to share from ‘Inside Our Minds?’
One of the goals of this project is for those with mental illnesses to know that it is okay to talk about your experience. Also that many other people share similar circumstances and can relate to what you are going through. Alyssa said she wants to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health and get the point across that “We are a whole human being and should be treated as one.” By having these personal life experiences shared with those who are not afflicted with a mental illness, it helps provide others with a glimpse and some understanding of what it looks like to live with a mental disorder.
What is your process for interviewing and recruiting individuals?
Her main forms of recruiting are through word of mouth and public advertising. The interviews take place in a public environment like a coffee shop or her office. When carrying out the interview, Alyssa makes the questioning very open-ended so the interviewee has the control. Throughout the interview Alyssa regularly checks in with the interviewee to make sure they are still comfortable with the subject and how the interview is unfolding. Alyssa highlighted how important it is to make sure the person being interviewed knows that they have control surrounding the subjects being discussed, and that the interview can be stopped at any time. Also, the individual is not required to have the interview made public. During the editing process the interviewee is actively involved by using a shared document that is edited as appropriate. This is done so there are no surprises when the document is posted to the site. Lastly, Alyssa will remove the post at any time if requested by the individual.
What can you share about the ‘Inside Our Minds’ podcasts?
In addition to the interviews, ‘Inside Our Minds’ has begun producing podcasts. This is a slightly less anonymous process, although a person can use a pseudonym (or code name) to help remain unknown. There are typically 3 participants included on a podcast with each podcast featuring a group of individuals with similar diagnoses that have had different experiences with that disorder. The purpose of this is to show a more rounded view of mental illness because the same disorder can often appear in different ways. Also an individual can have a variety of different experiences with a disorder.
What do you feel most proud of about your work?
Alyssa feels most proud about the positive feedback she receives from her audience. Often she gets caught up in all the work that needs to be done and admits she can get lost in the shuffle. However, the emails and positive feedback she receives is a heartwarming reminder that her work matters.
What is your personal experience with maintaining your mental health/wellness?
Alyssa explained that as a giver she has to stay healthy in order to give back to others. In order to maintain her mental health she participates in a variety of self-care activities. Some of her self-care methods include massages, acupuncture, yoga, eating right, and skyping with her therapist.
What would you tell the younger version of yourself?
Alyssa says she would want to share that just because you had a bad experience with a therapist does not mean they are all the same. Take the time to find a therapist that works for you and make sure you talk to someone about what you are experiencing.
Check out ‘Inside Our Minds‘ and their podcasts! What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you!