Mental health center gets new director


Jim Novelli, the new executive director for Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, is a native of New York City. He received his BA from the State University New York College at Fredonia and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Novelli has been involved in the behavior health field at both the state and community level. He directed a crisis service program for a number of years and taught at the local community college. He then worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities as assistant center director of the Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center. His final position with the state of Illinois was with the Division of Mental Health where he served as the executive director of Region Five. In this position, his office was responsible for oversight of the system of care for the southern portion of Illinois, which encompasses 36 counties and 26 community mental health agencies.

Then Novelli said he was “looking for a mental health care center that fit my skills base,” and he saw the EMCMHC as a “perfect fit.” Novelli has been with the local mental health center since February 1.

His long-term goal would be to get a crisis unit constructed so patients would not have to be transported the long distance to Warm Springs, but could be cared for in the community. That, however, would be a major community project, and before that, he wants to offer “cutting-edge services” for those in need.

Another major goal Novelli terms “stigma busting.” That includes public outreach to convince those in need to seek the services that would help them. 

People talk about their child’s broken leg, Novelli says, but not their child’s mental health. He wants to “help people get through that process” and accept mental health care as health care.

Novelli and his wife, Joette, have three children, one boy and two girls. Since the children are 23, 19 and 18, they will not be moving with their parents to become Miles City residents. His wife will remain in Illinois until later in the year, helping the children get settled and dealing with the other matters that a move across country involves.

Novelli, whose hobbies include martial arts, cooking and animal rescue, especially dogs, looks forward to becoming part of the Miles City community.