A lot of initiatives around mental health start with shifting our thinking. It’s crucial for individuals and families to realize that these are chronic conditions. In some cases, mental illness has developed over 20+ years and it can’t be solved in 28 days. We need to think about it like mental fitness. An hour a day over time helps build up our ability to navigate stressors, choose better coping mechanisms, and grow our mental health “muscles.” Maybe treatment starts as a sprint, but it turns into a long-term commitment.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Noah Nordheimer.
Noah Nordheimer is a passionate visionary, leader, and investor with an unshakable call to provide treatment for addiction and trauma and a 20-year track record of exceeding stakeholder expectations. Before founding All Points North (APN) Capital and serving as Chief Executive Officer for APN Lodge, Noah created the Baltimore-based Concerted Care Group (CCG) in 2014. At CCG, he designed a uniquely integrated model of care that has shown immense long-term promise for improved client outcomes and sustained addiction recovery. At APN Lodge, he’s bringing those same goals to a much larger scale.
Rejecting the standard “siloed” approach, Noah believes that the best possible outcomes come from the most complete and personalized care. At APN Lodge, he works to bring every viable treatment modality together on one comprehensive campus — all to offer hope to even the most complex needs of clients. Addiction treatment, behavioral health, primary and preventative care, and personal development comprise Noah’s vision for the future of healthcare. He holds that what others would call wraparound services are actually essential supports on the journey toward optimal wellness. Noah is a vocal advocate for addressing the needs of the whole person, and his comprehensive treatment strategy is making that possible.
Noah’s vision for care has already begun rewriting the narrative of addiction treatment, elevating and redefining the standards of care, and expanding post-treatment possibilities for both clients and their families. The CARF Accreditors have praised Noah and CCG, saying, “They are doing what 1–2% of providers are even thinking about doing and doing it exceptionally well.” He’s making sure APN Lodge is poised to do the same.
Throughout his career, Noah has been hands-on in the creation and deployment of complex capital formation strategies and emerged as a company leader with a heart to inspire and a mind to succeed.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
I grew up in Washington, D.C in a close family that was extremely supportive. I was an athlete and played lacrosse for some of the best schools in Maryland and was on track to play as a collegiate athlete.
I lived a seemingly charmed life. However, early on I experienced some extreme trauma — some of which my family did not know about until well after it happened, and some caused by things I went through with my family.
I went on to overcome those setbacks and began a career in finance and real estate. Ultimately, I was looking for more meaningful work and spent a decade of my life developing affordable housing before going into behavioral health.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
APN Lodge is working to make behavioral health treatment more inviting to a broader audience who just want to live better lives. This is important to me because when I was looking for help, I was forced into systems and practices that did not feel well suited to me. As a result, my pain, addiction, and trauma continued to control my life. I knew that I wanted APN Lodge’s treatment practices to be centered on the individual and evaluated with evidence-based metrics — instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Our goal, our fight is that each person’s mental fitness stands firm against whatever life brings, in a measurable and tangible way.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I was a lacrosse player and suffered a lot of injuries as an athlete. Those injuries required surgeries, and inevitably those surgeries led me to become addicted to prescription painkillers. However, as we find with many clients, the pills were the symptom. The cause was much deeper rooted.
For eight years of my childhood, I was sexually abused — a secret that I kept for 20 years. Unrelated, when I was 15, my father went to prison and my family’s entire world blew up.
The picket fence was gone, and I needed to grow up quickly. I began working nearly a 40-hour work week at the age of 15. I worked multiple jobs throughout my teenage years. I was a barista, delivered pizzas, pumped gas, washed cars, and the worst —
bundling firewood. My first day working at the firewood warehouse, I arrived at 4 a.m. to a warehouse located deep in Virginia. I was not told to bring gloves. After that first night, I spent hours soaking my hands, trying to pull the splinters out.
I knew at that point I needed to think bigger. I wanted to own the warehouse, I wanted to employ the guy bundling wood, and I wanted to supply all those workers with gloves. I think tying all of that together propelled me to pursue mental health work on a large scale.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
My first “aha moment” was absolutely that night after the warehouse shift, soaking out my splinters. As I started to think bigger, I aimed high. So I started a career in finance and development. I worked my way up from beginning as a broker to managing over 200mm dollars annually in development work.
After doing that for nearly a decade, I looked back at the portfolio that I had helped build and realized it wasn’t where I was meant to be. While I had overcome a lot and had great success in bringing affordable housing to more people, I still wanted to do more. Walking away at the time was difficult and scary, but I knew I had reached the pinnacle of the organization that had prepared me for this moment, and I was ready to do things my way.
I looked at a number of opportunities, one of which was investing in an addiction treatment center. I quickly realized this particular treatment center didn’t care about patient outcomes and was missing the big picture. This was my next “aha moment.”
I wanted to dive into the mental health and wellness space and create a better model of care.
At the time, I was in transition, and didn’t know how I was going to do it. I had my own personal experience with addiction, so my passion was connected to this cause, too. I believed that an integrated model of care would not only provide better outcomes, but also a better bottom line. But at that point, I was still naïve to how hard creating an integrated care model actually is.
In 2014, after those “aha moments,” I formed Concerted Care Group (CCG). Over the next seven years, we scaled it to one of the best (and largest) addiction treatment and behavioral health programs in the state of Maryland. Watching success in the Medicaid and Medicare world of CCG, my next “aha moment” came when I realized that the center brought quality outcomes to only one region and one segment of the population. But there is still so much more quality care to be had–across all demographics, regions, and walks of life. Out of that moment came All Points North Lodge in Edwards, CO–a mountainside behavioral health campus where cutting-edge technology and clinical excellence meet experiential therapies and whole-person care. That’s the work I’m focused on right now.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Every day is interesting in the mental health and wellness field. I would say the most publicized has been legal battles with the communities where we have developed facilities. To open All Points North Lodge, we faced a lot of those “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) battles — which usually means legal opposition by residents to proposed developments in their local area.
As long and strenuous as those NIMBY battles proved to be, I was never deterred from doing everything I could do for people’s rights to access quality care. It’s heartbreaking to see how much stigma still exists for those who seek help for mental health, trauma, and/or addiction. There is not a single community in this country that is immune to substance abuse or mental health issues. Stigma is the greatest barrier, and I’m committed to tearing that stigma down, now more than ever.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
My parents and sister have always been my cheerleaders. Startup life isn’t easy, so it’s nice to have their positive affirmations. My father also gave me the confidence to dream big and take risks. One lesson he gave that sticks with me is, “if you’re going to be something, be the best at it.” I am also constantly learning and asking questions until someone tells me “no.”
I’m proud to say that I also have many mentors I’ve worked with in my career. A few years ago, I began working with a business coach, Michael McCracken. He’s helped me grow and understand how to be my best self to lead these companies as best as I can.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet, there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
Stigma is the biggest barrier. In fact, a recent APN and Propeller Insights survey of 1,000 Americans revealed over half of Americans (57.8%) say that the fear of being judged because of a mental health diagnosis is the №1 barrier to getting help when struggling with mental health.
Behavioral health is not inviting, and it should be. People are making investments in themselves and trying to grow, yet the stigma within us and as society makes that a hard concept to accept. The personal development field is exploding. People are proud of personal development work. Behavioral health needs to move closer towards an intersection of behavioral health and personal development.
The industry also needs to take some responsibility for stigma around getting help. For many years, and still today, many treatment options are not evidenced-based. However, we have data and technology available and it should always be used to measure success in recovery and the impact of our work. More success in treatment will bring less shame around the conditions that take you to treatment.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
A lot of initiatives around mental health start with shifting our thinking. It’s crucial for individuals and families to realize that these are chronic conditions. In some cases, mental illness has developed over 20+ years and it can’t be solved in 28 days. We need to think about it like mental fitness. An hour a day over time helps build up our ability to navigate stressors, choose better coping mechanisms, and grow our mental health “muscles.” Maybe treatment starts as a sprint, but it turns into a long-term commitment. Everyone is unique and will need to find what supports them for the long haul. What worked for someone else may not work for you or your loved one, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Think of it as finding the right match, and keep searching for the tools that work for you or your loved one — I promise they are out there.
For society at large, there needs to be more understanding. Just because the person isn’t bleeding, and you can’t see their wound, doesn’t mean they are not in pain. We need to find a way to applaud those who seek help instead of shaming them and saying “not in my backyard.”
In policy and practice, healthcare in this country is fractured. We spend a third of our GDP on healthcare, but the U.S. doesn’t make the list of top 20 for countries with best healthcare outcomes. We need all of healthcare to be more evidence-based and to move towards value-based care. Our government also needs to enforce parity laws. It’s no coincidence that insurance companies are having their highest profit years ever while the deaths of despair are soaring. I can’t tell you how many families who have insurance have come to us with a son or daughter that gets authorized for 14 days of care, but is then kicked down by the managed care organization to a lower level of care as soon as they show any ounce of progress. There are parity laws to protect families from this and they need to be enforced.
What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Eat healthy. Your mind, body, and soul are all connected and it’s important to care for your whole self.
2. Stay active. I know if I don’t work out for an hour a day, my mental health suffers. Pay
attention to your body and give it the exercise or movement it needs.
3. Sleep enough. I go to sleep around 9 p.m. each night. I didn’t value my sleep when I was younger, but now I understand how critical it is to my everyday health and mental health.
4. Use breathwork. Conscious connected breathing has changed my life. Thank you, Ryan Soave.
5. Go to therapy. Talking about things makes them so much easier. And remember, it’s about finding the right match for you!
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy life and don’t beat yourself up for mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t dwell on the past. Look toward the future.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
I think Andrew Huberman is at the top of the list, I love the work he is doing with easily-accessible education on neuroscience. Brene Brown is inspiring, especially regarding her thoughts on good leadership and tackling shame. I also like some lesser-known folks like Darryl Stinson, who has some incredible videos and Tedx talks available for free.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I think making a positive impact on others and being kind is critical to a healthy, successful, and forward-moving society. Every person has a story and you never know what someone is going through, so your kindness could be the difference between their despair or their hope.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can visit our website (www.apnlodge.com) or our social channels: @apnlodge on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!