Yesterday in JOUR 1550 we had the privilege to meet with Meg Kissinger, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was fascinating to learn about Kissinger's evolving career in journalism. She's covered a variety of topics, from obituaries to gossip to science, but when two of her siblings committed suicide, Kissinger began to write stories about mental illness at a time when it was an uncomfortable subject for many people. In many ways, it still is, and the mental health system has, unfortunately, remained inefficient and inconsistent. She told us that Milwaukee has the highest rate of emergency detentions in the nation, and there have been five deaths at the Milwaukee Mental Health complex this year. Through her reporting, Kissinger's goal is to find out how mental health care in Milwaukee can be improved.

In preparation for her visit, Professor Lowe requested that we take a look at Kissinger's excellent multimedia piece Imminent Danger, which focuses on how the health care system for patients with mental illness got so broken and how psychiatrists and the government are trying to fix it. Kissinger interviewed mental health advocates, psychiatrists, family members of people with mental illness, the husband of a victim at Virginia Tech and a victim of the shooting at Tucson.

What really struck me about Kissinger was her positive energy. Despite the struggles she's faced with her family and her own health, and despite the heavy nature of the topic she covers, she has a very upbeat personality and she even had the class laughing at her anecdotes and wisecracks throughout her visit. Not only is Kissinger a great role model as a journalist; I believe she's also someone to look up to for maintaing a strong will and a positive attitude in the face of personal challenges. This semester we'll be working with Kissinger on our own stories about mental health in Milwaukee, and I can honestly say I'm looking forward to it.

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