Meg Kissinger
Award-winning journalist and author


Meg Kissinger, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author, will help you see and think about people with mental illness in a new light. Her engaging memoir, While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence, has been praised for its incisive reporting, boundless compassion and  surprising humor. It was named as an editors choice by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, Goodreads and Independent Booksellers Association. Audible chose it as the Best of the Year. 

Kissinger spent more than two decades traveling across the country to report on our nation’s failed mental health system. She is a popular speaker at universities, civic organizations and corporate events. She taught investigative reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and is a trainer for the school’s Dart Center on Trauma and Journalism. 

Meg Kissinger lives in Milwaukee, WI, along the shores of Lake Michigan, her favorite place to plunge, even on the coldest day in January.

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While You Were Out An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence
Celadon Books

From award-winning journalist Meg Kissinger, a searing memoir of a family besieged by mental illness, as well as an incisive exploration of the systems that failed them and a testament to the love that sustained them.


The Five Things You Should Know About Loving Someone With Serious Mental Illness What Meg learned about our so-called mental health “system” as a sister, daughter and an investigative reporter. In this talk, Meg details the tortured history of mental health care in America, outlines the disastrous consequences of flawed policy and offers concrete action steps to help those who suffer. Sins Of The Fathers How the Catholic Church failed our family and what faith institutions of all denominations are now doing to help those with mental illness. Meg offers compelling examples of how religious organizations are helping people with mental illness and their families, particularly those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Wisdom From My Big Brother Jake Jake lives in a group home outside of Chicago. Over the years, he has shown Meg how to live gracefully and gratefully, despite the saddle of his chronic mental illness. Jake and others Meg interviewed over the years share their wisdom on making the most out of life.




America Magazine runs a beautiful original piece by Meg Kissinger (2/4/24).

NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with Meg Kissinger for his “Open Book” interview series – watch HERE

While You Were Out wins BookPal’s Outstanding Works of Literature Award in the “Community-Wide Read” category.

Plus Meg Kissinger is featured on Zibby Owens’ podcastWisconsin NPRMilwaukee MagazineLitHub, and more!

The Atlantic features a stellar recommendation of While You Were Out as one of “Six Books That Might Change How You Think About Mental Illness” (11/20/23).

While You Were Out featured in the Bio & Memoir category of Audible’s The Best of 2023 list.

Read the New York Times‘ Editors’ Choice “9 New Books We Recommend This Week” which includes Meg Kissinger’s While You Were Out (10/26/23).

While You Were Out is also a Los Angeles Times September book pick, one of LitHub‘s “Best Audiobooks of September”, an Indie Next Book selection, an Amazon Editors’ Choice, a Goodreads Choice, a Next Big Idea Selection, and an AudioFile Magazine‘s Earphones Award Winner.

Meg Kissinger’s While You Were Out receives starred reviews at Shelf Awareness, BookPage, and Publishers Weekly.

Meg Kissinger discusses mental health in America and in Milwaukee with Depresh Mode podcast.

Check out Meg Kissinger and While You Were Out on Next Big Idea’s “Book Bites”.

Listen to Meg reads an excerpt from While You Were Out on the Debutiful podcast.

For the Thoughts From a Page podcast Meg Kissinger talks about While You Were Out, why she decided to write this book, how the health care system often fails those with mental illness, what surprised her the most when writing this memoir, living with parents who have mental illnesses, her title and its significance, and much more.

Listen to Meg Kissinger on the Savvy Psychologist podcast discuss her new book, While You Were Out, a story about family mental illness in an era of silence.

Visit Meg Kissinger’s website and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Praise for While You Were Out "The raw intimacy of her prose exemplifies the empathy our society so desperately needs.”
— The New York Times

“Electric."
— LA Review of Books

“A searing debut.”
— Publishers Weekly — Starred Review

"Meg Kissinger is a world-class reporter and a rip-roaring storyteller. Her heartfelt, eviscerating, deeply introspective investigation of long-held family secrets will leave you quaking with rage about our broken mental-health system—and grateful that writers like her are on the case."
—Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road

"As a journalist, Meg Kissinger has long been shining a light on our broken mental health care system by telling the stories of people struggling with mental illness. In While You Were Out, she tells the more personal and painful narrative of the people in her own family who have struggled with mental illness. A gifted storyteller, Kissinger reminds us, in the words of her deceased brother, 'Only love and understanding can conquer this disease.' This wonderful book offers us both."
— Tom Insel, MD, Former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health