Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Step 2. Build Capacity

The Value of Capacity

An assessment of local capacity, including both resources and readiness, enables planners to develop a more holistic understanding of the community. In addition to the obvious – yet critical – benefit of painting a more accurate picture of your community, assessing local capacity can help planners do the following:

  • Prioritize problems and identify causal factors to address. Once problems are identified, an understanding of resources can reveal which are insufficiently addressed by existing services. Of those problems, an understanding of readiness can shed light on which require awareness-raising efforts. 
  • Select the “right” prevention program, practice, or strategy. Many evidence-based approaches to prevent substance use and abuse are appropriate for a given problem or community. By understanding resources and readiness, a community can determine which strategies it can implement effectively.
  • Increase the cultural relevance of and broaden community support for prevention activities: When shaped in collaboration with various people, organizations, and institutions in the area, prevention activities will be more relevant for and sensitive to the cultures that comprise the community. 
  • Improve the potential for sustainability: It is difficult to develop winning grant proposals on a regular basis, and external resources will not provide long-term support for community-based prevention. An understanding of local resources and readiness can help prevention planners find ways to institutionalize effective prevention efforts.


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