The CARES UP Model

Step Two - Build UP

A purple pyramid highlighting the Build UP step with the definition of the step below.

To ensure a successful CARES UP launch, it is important to establish roles and responsibilities of key staff. Establishing certain roles and their accompanying responsibilities will be very helpful. If the department is small, then one person may be designated in many of these roles with successful implementation. However, it is best to have a team, or a few staff devoted to a CARES UP process. Once these roles have been established, it is a matter of prioritizing and having a good plan. 

 CARES UP Team – Roles & Responsibilities:

Main Point of Contact: Responsibilities may include: 

  • Responding to any initial inquiries about your efforts from staff and external sources.
  • Managing any media, messaging, and communication efforts.
  • Connecting individuals to local resources (e.g. the county suicide prevention coalition).

Administrators: This senior leader is someone who oversees the implementation of planned strategies, solve problems, coordinates team efforts, and helps to remove barriers to success.

Champion(s): This person is a natural leader within the department who recognizes the importance of investing in wellness, resilience and peer work. This person is respected among colleagues. they are comfortable discussing and advocating for departmental and wellness and peer strategies.

Trainer and/or Training Coordinator: A key element of the CARES UP Model includes providing quality, evidence-based training on mental health, suicide prevention, wellness, resilience and peer work. We recommend a staff person who can regularly ensure access to and compliance with all departmental trainings and liaise with any outside training vendors.

Finance Contact: If there are financial considerations relative to start up and sustainability of the CARES UP work, this person will ensure invoicing, budgeting and billing considerations are met. 

Peer Leaders: This role may already be in place or may evolve during implementation. This person(s) will help to form or enhance existing peer to peer work relative to your department’s CARES UP initiative. To be successful, this person should have knowledge and experience in best practices for peer work specific to their discipline (e.g. fire services, corrections, law enforcement, emergency management services). This role is important and worth considering though not a necessary component. 

Evaluator: This role can help to measure impact of your efforts. Though not a necessary role, this ought to be considered during CARES UP for a more robust implementation. 

Once your team is assembled and before continuing a comprehensive initiative like CARES UP, it is important to pause and question: What is our need? What changes would we like to make, and do we have the capacity to implement these changes? During this section of Build UP, we encourage agencies to consider the following:

  1. Agency has dedicated staff member(s) who can take the lead on this initiative. This can be a portion of their job or a full-time staff person. Refer to the description of the roles and responsibilities of key members. 
  2. Agency has the support of agency leadership/union representatives. 
  3. Agency has a dedicated budget to assist in implementing goals (not required but encouraged. Grant funding may be a bridge to getting full buy-in for agency funding). 
  4. Agency has reviewed internal Policy and Procedures to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion are included. 

Before moving to the next step, it’s important to update staff about the launch of the CARES UP initiative so they are aware that the agency is prioritizing mental wellness and get them engaged. Let them know about this new initiative by utilizing the email template provided below. You may also consider hosting a kickoff meeting, webinar, or a wellness event to explain what CARES UP is and what events/trainings will be launching over the upcoming months, years, etc. Be creative as you Step UP, Build UP, and empower others to join the effort. You and your team are experts on the staff/agency culture and what it takes to get people engaged and enthusiastic about a new initiative.  

Kickoff Email Template:

Hello Team –

Our agency wants to support the mental health and wellness of our employees. Our department is dedicated to providing resources and programming focused on helping to strengthen mental health and wellness. These resources have been put together by the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention (OMH’s SPCNY) as part of the CARES UP initiative. CARES UP is designed to build on uniformed personnel’s resiliency, bravery, teamwork, and connections. CARES UP stands for: Changing the Conversation, Awareness, Resilience, Empowering Peers, Skills Building/Suicide Prevention for, Uniformed Personnel.  Each of the underscored is an essential component in this workplace wellness initiative. 

CARES UP is a comprehensive model which steers the conversation on mental health beyond stigma and shame and aims to strengthen the overall health of the department through education/awareness, skills building, and enhanced peer supports. 

Resilience isn’t something people are born with; it is something people actively cultivate, like building up muscles and learning to flex them when needed. This is an opportunity to strengthen our department with taking new types of trainings that focus on wellness, like learning healthy coping strategies, enhancing life skills and receiving trainings for suicide prevention. 

To kickoff this initiative we will (insert agency specific details, see examples below):

  • Host a training
  • Ask staff to complete a survey
  • Host a kickoff event to launch this initiative to celebrate our commitment to change

If you have any questions or have additional feedback, please reach out to (insert contact information here) or Please feel free to visit for additional information. 

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