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Janie and Jeff Plank had no idea what to do when, in quick succession, three of their four children found themselves grappling with mental illness.
“We were tossed into a pool and didn’t know how to swim,” remembered Janie. She turned to her friend McLean National Council member Carroll Pierce. Carroll and fellow National Council member Barbara Bloom were “lifesavers.” They helped the Planks navigate the unfamiliar territory of supporting a child with mental illness.
Having worked hard to stabilize her own family, Janie is determined to pay it forward and help others. She is upbeat and direct, and proud that her children are committed to reducing stigma by speaking openly about their experiences.
“Mental Illness affects the whole family,” said Janie. “We are now a family of advocates, and this lifelong journey has made us who we are today.” Two of her children have chosen to pursue social work or counseling careers as a result of their experiences.
Today, Janie is passionate about supporting McLean with both time and money. She and Jeff are members of the Mary Belknap Society and the McLean Board of Visitors. Janie is on McLean’s Women’s Mental Health Leadership Council and the Patient and Family Advisory Council and is a board member of the Cole Resource Center which operates at McLean.
“McLean’s expertise is unmatched,” said Janie. “We make unrestricted gifts because we trust the hospital’s leadership to direct funds where they are most needed.”
Janie also supports women’s mental health. “I have three daughters, so this is close to my heart. It is critical to understand the differences between the way men and women experience mental illness, and treatment needs to reflect those differences. I love that McLean has a Center of Excellence just for women.”
To join the Mary Belknap Society, McLean’s leadership annual giving group, contact Ben Ogilvy at 617.855.3623.