Todd Noble said it didn’t surprise any of his friends when he chose a career in mental health counseling, even though his undergraduate degree is in oral history.
“I was always fixing problems as a kid,” said Noble, the oldest of six children growing up in Hemet, California.
Noble was recently promoted to Mental Health Program Manager with Linn County Public Health, succeeding 30-year veteran Cliff Hartman, who retired.
“I have known Cliff for 22 years and he was one of the most organized program managers in the state,” Noble said. “He built a great program. It’s going to be a huge learning curve.”
Noble came to Oregon to complete a masters degree in counseling at Oregon State University.
“It was Cinco de Mayo and I remember the professor telling me that Oregon weather is not always that nice,” Noble said. “Of course, it’s beautiful here.”
In 1992, right out of OSU, he was hired by Linn County as a mental health crisis supervisor, a job he held for 14 years.
He left the county and spent seven years with the Accountable Behavior Health Alliance, managing in-patient care, and came back to Linn County in 2013, in the hopes of being named Hartman’s successor.
“I guess I’ve always been a natural counselor,” Noble said. “I’m a good listener and I’m really a people person. It’s a great honor to be entrusted with this job.”
Noble said mental health is the largest part of the county’s health program, with 130 employees.
“Linn County has one of the largest mental health program in the state,” Noble said. “A lot of places are very fractured.”
Mental health — like all other aspects of health care — is undergoing a huge shift to coordinated care organizations, Noble said.
“Right now, IHN (InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization) accounts for about 80 percent of our business,” Noble said. “My goal is for us to cultivate a great working relationship with Samaritan Health Services and with local medical homes for integrated health care.”
Noble said it’s also imperative that his department work closely with local schools and especially with law enforcement agencies.
“We have actually hired someone who is embedded with the police department and goes on rides with officers,” he said. “Our crisis team is second to none. We want to be able to intervene before a situation rises to a high level.”
Noble said it takes a year before someone gets to know their job well.
“I tell people that it’s like a train. The cars I’ve been responsible for are all shiny and clean,” Noble said. “Now, I’m responsible for the whole train and it’s very long.”
Noble said his area of expertise is helping people who have suicidal behavior.
“I’ve led about 60 training sessions around the state over the last two years,” Noble said.
Noble said his staff is present at area hospitals every day of the year, especially focused on helping people with suicidal tendencies.
“We want to provide open access quickly,” Noble said.
Frank Moore, director of Linn County Public Health, has high praise for his new administrator.
“Even though we did an open recruitment, Todd very quickly rose to the top of the pile,” Moore said. “He’s got a history with Linn County, starting with us in 1992. He left for another position where he grew his skills. He’s a natural leader and has a real knack for solving gnarly mental health problems.”
Noble is a San Francisco 49ers football fan and hopes the 49ers win next year’s Super Bowl on his 49th birthday.
“Their first Super Bowl win was when I was 16. My son says this is our year,” Noble said.