The Plumas County Behavioral Health Department has a new leader at the helm, and he is ready to steer the ship in a good direction. Dr. Tony Hobson, a psychologist and behavioral health administrator, has been the new director of behavioral health for all of two months, and he is already making waves.
Hobson is a Paradise native and was the director of Behavioral Health for Yuba and Sutter counties, the only bi-county mental health system in the state. Hobson spent four years navigating the two county’s behavioral health needs and liked the idea of the smaller scope within Plumas County.
Though Hobson lives in Paradise, Plumas County is a familiar place to him. He said he would take his family camping and fishing in the area, and he has always loved it.
Prior to his work as a behavioral health administrator, Hobson was a psychologist in the criminal justice system. He worked in state prisons and in the courts as a therapist.
“I have been involved in the criminal justice system,” said Hobson. “We have some partners in the community really wanting to work with behavioral health and so it is kind of a nice opportunity to just jump in where you are already welcome.”
Hobson said he is making as many improvements to the Behavioral Health Department as he can while keeping costs down. He is also planning on finding as many opportunities for collaboration with other community agencies as possible to help provide for the mental health needs of the community.
Plumas County’s behavioral health department specializes in helping individuals with moderate to severe mental illness. An individual with mental health needs will be assessed by a therapist in the department. If the individual shows sign of moderate to severe illness, then the department will establish a treatment plan to help that individual.
Hobson said the Family Resource Centers distributed throughout the county are critical to helping meet needs, but right now the only way to be admitted as a patient into the department is to come to the Quincy headquarters, which can be difficult for many.
Hobson said starting in September, there will be intake slots at the wellness centers themselves.
“We are trying to decentralize our resources as much as possible,” he said.
Plumas County’s Behavioral Health Department has had frequent turnover in positions in the past few years, causing problems with understaffing and finances. Hobson said he is not daunted by the problems within the department.
“I don’t find it overwhelming,” he said. “I am up for the challenge. I like to help build something up.”
Right now, the department is down six therapists, which makes case management difficult. Hobson said the county department serves approximately 450 individuals, both children and adults, within the county. Recruiting for the unfilled positions can be challenging, but with the help of telecommunication and other county agencies, he is going to try to reach out as much as possible to fill the need.
“The staff here are very dedicated in what they do,” Hobson said. “They are meant to be here and they are meant to do this work.”
Hobson might even fill in a bit as a therapist if needed, but right now his priority is getting the boat back afloat.
“It is long hours right now, but I am excited to be here,” he said.