Mona Whiting Finds Mental Health Support Through Therapeutic, Collaborative Approach

Mona Whiting is looking forward to living independently again. In anticipation of that day, she has started to accumulate household supplies like dishes, pans and a microwave.

Pursuing independent living is important to her and one of the goals she is working toward. She also works on her recovery, helps out others in her life and enjoys the company of friends. She has hope for her future.

Mona is a resident at the Windermere Home in Kannapolis for people with severe and persistent mental illness. She attends a local day program for adults, RHA Health Services in Concord. She meets regularly with Monarch Medical Director Dr. Robert McHale, M.D., M.Sc., DFAPA, ABPM, FASAM, for medication management. This team of supports help her to better cope with and navigate mental illness.

Mona, 59, was medically diagnosed for the first time in 2013 when she began receiving services through Monarch. She has lived in many locales across the country including Wisconsin, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Florida and California moving to North Carolina in 2012. Her cousin acts as her guardian and oversees her care.

Diagnosed with depression and bipolar and schizoaffective disorder, as well as working through recovery from alcohol use, Mona shares, “I feel a lot better today than I have ever felt.” She is proud that this summer will mark 30 years of sobriety.

For the past nine years, Mona has called Windermere home and residents there consider her a parental figure and often ask her for advice. “Mona is very independent and takes initiative. She tries to make new residents feel comfortable. She takes pride in everything that she does,” observes Omar Polk, BA, QP, residential team leader for Monarch’s Long-Term Services and Supports.

Cooking for many years, Mona first learned from her father and thinks the skill was passed down in her family since many of her relatives also love to cook. At 19, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she studied in the culinary school. At her day program, she is part of a team that prepares meals four days a week.

“Cooking helps me calm down and realize that I have more responsibilities. It gives me confidence. I enjoy it,” she says, adding that she likes cooking for her housemates at Windermere saying some of her favorite meals to make are breakfast, Italian dishes and country fried steak.

Dr. McHale has seen Mona heal and thrive through Monarch services. “Mona has a very positive outlook about her future. She is starting to enjoy happiness and make plans for herself,” he says.

The person-centered, therapeutic approach between the staff and residents helps in managing wellness, in addition to assistance with reaching goals, ln the same way Mona is experiencing. Dr. McHale’s time spent with Mona not only focuses on reviewing medications but also offers education on how to better understand mental illness and being able to recognize symptoms that may resurface.

The collaborative approach and having others, like staff, residents and medical support, to lean on when having a rough time is one that Mona appreciates. “I learn a lot from them and they are like family to me. They guide me in the right direction,” she says. “I have learned to advocate for myself that is what the staff helps me do. They teach me how to go out in the community,”

For more information about Monarch’s long-term services and supports which includes residential services, visit here.

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Windermere group home resident Mona Whiting, left, stands with Residential Manager Omar Polk.
Windermere group home resident, Mona Whiting, left, stands in front of the residence with Omar Polk, Monarch residential team leader.

Posted on: Monday May 2, 2022