Breaking Stigma, Building Resilience: Eckerd Connects’ Trauma-Informed Care Approach

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Eckerd Connects stands as a beacon of comprehensive mental health support for our communities, recognizing the profound impact of external stressors, including effects of COVID-19, on mental well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year, with common conditions including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Among young adults aged 16-24, mental health problems are prevalent particularly prevalent, affecting 1 in 4. Families are also significantly impacted, with about 1 in 3 experiencing challenges related to mental health within their households.

A brave 22-year-old Potomac Job Corps student, Noah, spoke at the first-ever National Job Corps Association Mental Health Conference. Noah shared his story about challenges he has faced, with depression and anxiety. He said that, at one point, he felt alienated. But at Job Corps, Noah discovered that he felt accepted for who he was, who he wants to be, and he recognized that his friends face challenges of their own. Through Job Corps, Noah was able to not only gain education and career success but also learned how such success is so intricately tied to both mental and emotional well-being.

“Mental health is the cornerstone of personal growth and success,” Noah said. “At the Potomac Job Corps, the entire staff is committed to providing holistic support that empowers individuals like me to thrive. Thanks to Job Corps, I am committed to being the best Noah I can be. I have received the medical care I need. I know what it takes for me to be healthy and that is the goal for the rest of my life. I have a positive outlook on my future. Although I have hit some bumps in the road, I know I am destined to overcome any obstacles and I am going to be great!”

Recent data highlights a significant rise in mental health challenges, emphasizing the necessity of approaches like our trauma-informed care model. Trauma-informed care at Eckerd Connects is a foundational philosophy that guides us in creating safe, supportive environments for healing and growth. It involves:

  • Recognizing the widespread impact of trauma and adversity on individuals’ lives.
  • Understanding and addressing the unique needs and triggers of trauma survivors.
  • Empowering individuals with choices, autonomy, and a sense of safety.
  • Promoting resilience, recovery, and meaningful connections.

“Eckerd Connects’ commitment to trauma-informed care is about creating safe spaces where our clients and students feel seen, heard, and supported on their journey towards healing,” shares Lyn Zweibach, Eckerd Connects’ Senior Director of Quality and Performance.

Lyn continued to say, “We teach our entire staff to listen with empathy and understand key phrases or triggers to better serve and provide education, career preparation, prevention and health and wellness services. We realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for healing and respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices, and settings. Such understanding and knowledge is essential to our clients and students’ long-term success.”

Noah continued to reflect, “The Job Corps program has been a lifeline for me and many others. Not only have I been able to secure the education and job skills to jumpstart a career, but also unmatched ‘family’ support from the entire staff. Their (Potomac Job Corps’) holistic approach to mental health has made a real difference in my life.”

Beyond Job Corps, Eckerd Connects offers a range of impactful services to support individuals and communities. As a leading provider of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded programs, we operate over 100 workforce development initiatives, providing Title I Youth, Adult, & Dislocated Worker services while managing One Stop Operations for regional Career Centers. Eckerd Connects’ expertise extends to working with Juvenile Justice youth, where we facilitate positive behavior change, mitigate risk factors, and help families discover sustainable solutions tailored to their unique needs. Additionally, our Family & Children services prioritize the best interests of children, parents, and communities, delivering integrated systems that serve their needs directly in their neighborhoods.

Omaira Gonzalez, Eckerd Connects Family Coach for Parenting Education, worked closely with a client that recently graduated from a Spanish class. The client has struggled with chronic depression for years, yet found solace and a place of belonging through Eckerd Connects’ support services. Using trauma-informed and motivational interviewing, Omaira was able to activate empathy to help the client achieve her goals but also how to better manage depression.

The client reflected on this experience by saying, “Eckerd Connects has been a lifeline for me and my family. Their dedicated support and personalized approach have made a significant positive impact on our lives, helping us navigate challenges and find hope for the future.”

Dave Hardesty, Vice President of Operations for Eckerd Connects’ juvenile justice programs, emphasizes, “Our commitment to mental health support extends to every aspect of our operations, ensuring that everyone in the Eckerd Connects family feels valued and supported.”

Ana Lewis, Vice President of Community-Based Services in Florida and Louisiana, adds, “By integrating mental health initiatives into our community-based services, we empower individuals and families to thrive.”

Furthermore, Eckerd Connects prioritizes the mental well-being of our team members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), offering a suite of support services:

  • Counseling Services: Six visits per year with network clinicians.
  • Sanvello App: Access clinical techniques for stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Talkspace: Instant access to licensed EAP providers, 24/7.
  • Virtual Visits: HIPAA-compliant video counseling services.

In closing, at Eckerd Connects, we believe that mental health is integral to overall wellness, and our unwavering commitment to accessible, effective support remains steadfast.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help or information about mental health resources, please reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at or call or text 988. Remember, you are not alone, and support is available. Let’s continue to prioritize mental health awareness and advocacy together.

To learn more about Eckerd Connects comprehensive services and programs:

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The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.