Core Competency: Capacity Building and Workforce Development

Great programs need great teams behind them, and the only way to build a great project team is to build capacity. Capacity building has two components: 

  1. Increasing the knowledge, skills, and effectiveness of your project staff to implement activities that contribute to your project objectives 
  2. Ensuring that your partners and stakeholders have the skills and information needed to fulfill their roles in the project 

Capacity building will also affect the ability of your agency and partner organizations to continue suicide prevention work beyond the life of the grant. Examples of capacity building include: 

  • Training newly hired project staff in the skills they will need to carry out their job functions 

  • Building the skills of stakeholders, volunteers, and community partners so they can contribute to suicide prevention in their setting or role 

  • Training key professionals in the community (such as mental health clinicians, primary care providers, and other health and caring professions) to properly assess and manage suicidal clients 

  • Developing manuals, policies, and procedures to ensure ongoing training in the future 

  • Ensuring that coalition or task force members are prepared to take on key functions of suicide prevention when the grant ends 

Capacity building for your project ultimately contributes to the development of a strong suicide prevention workforce. This workforce not only includes health care professionals who work individually with suicidal patients, but also program planners, community organizers, trainers, facilitators, and others who are involved in the comprehensive work to reduce risk and increase protection for the community as a whole.  

Grantees who are training this broad workforce should do so with an eye toward the long-term infrastructure of suicide prevention in their communities. Only with a skilled prevention workforce can suicide prevention efforts be maintained in the long term. 

Core Competencies 

  • Your project staff are trained in the necessary knowledge and skills for program implementation (e.g., grant management, data collection, coalition building, suicide prevention basics). 

  • Your service area mental health and health care providers have the needed skills for assessing and managing suicide risk. 

  • You work to improve community capacity and awareness in suicide prevention (e.g., through gatekeeper trainings, referral networks, awareness campaigns) 

  • Your coalition or task force members have the training and knowledge needed for their roles. 

  • You have a plan in place to regularly assess and improve your organization's capabilities (e.g., meeting grant goals, staff performance, resource management, external relationship building). 

How Your SPRC Prevention Specialist Can Help 

Your Prevention Specialist can: 

  • Work with you to identify the key capacity needs of your staff and partners, as well as training and resources to support workforce development 

  • Advise you on how to embed knowledge and skills in your own and partner organizations so they are not lost during staffing or funding transitions 

  • Offer culturally responsive resources, approaches, and training to develop the knowledge and skills needed by staff, stakeholders, and partners in areas such as suicide basics, key skills and data, and the public health approach