How Community-Based Programs Nurture Mental Health

NOTE: As of Feb. 29, 2024, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) has rebranded to Landmarks for Families. Our nonprofit, community programs and residential services remain committed to cultivating thriving youth and families in this new chapter.

Like a flower in a garden, we each have certain similar yet unique needs that must be met for us to bloom. In stable homes, our parents and guardians often meet these needs – a sense of security, financial support, proper nutrition, etc. Essential life skills, such as healthy coping mechanisms, emotional responses and more, are taught or learned from watching those who love and care for us. But what becomes of us if those needs are not met? What if those lessons are not taught?

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact

Trauma can profoundly impact a person’s mental health and overall well-being. Whether stemming from abuse, neglect or other adverse experiences, trauma can shape an individual’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. To heal and rebuild, those who have experienced trauma require a solid foundation of support.

In the face of adversity, individuals who have experienced trauma often need a supportive structure to help them heal and grow. No matter what struggles we have faced or challenges stand before us, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) views the potential within each individual for growth beyond their past. Utilizing approaches rooted in Trust-Based Relational Intervention, we can bloom together.

The Role of Community-Based Supports

Much like a scaffolding provides stability and support during construction, community-based support programs play a vital role in improving our own “structure” as people with resources to foster resilience, healing and personal growth. 

At CYDC, we focus on more than meeting the needs of those at our centers. We work diligently to unite families in our community with services that matter in the place that matters most – the home. By working alongside children and caretakers in their own four walls, we can more effectively assess situations, determine areas that require nurture and improve dynamics to create healthier, happier, more functional home live.

We believe that, by working together, communities are more able to provide and fulfill the basic needs that serve as our foundation for success in this life. So how do we grow together?

The Growth Process: Unfreeze, Reframe, Refreeze and Grow

The scaffolding provided by community-based supports enables individuals to engage in a growth process. This process involves pausing to acknowledge the impact of trauma, reflecting on practices or responses that may not be working, correcting these unhealthy patterns, and growing into more resilient and thriving individuals. 


Community-based supports offer a safe and supportive environment where individuals can pause and acknowledge the effects of trauma. Through therapy or counseling, individuals are encouraged to take a step back from their daily lives and give themselves permission to pause and reflect on their experiences. This pause allows them to acknowledge the emotions, thoughts and challenges potentially associated with their trauma. It is a crucial first step toward healing and personal growth.


During this reflection phase, individuals engage in self-exploration and introspection. Through therapy sessions, support groups or other community-based interventions, they have the opportunity to examine the impact of their trauma on various aspects of their lives. 

These instances may include their relationships, self-perception, beliefs and behaviors. Reflecting on these areas helps individuals gain insight into how their experiences have shaped their current patterns and enables them to identify areas that require healing and change. 


Once individuals have gained awareness through reflection, the next step is to reframe these unhealthy patterns and behaviors. Community-based supports provide a range of resources and strategies to help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms, improve their emotional regulation skills, and address any negative or self-destructive behaviors that may have developed as a result of trauma. 

This refreeze phase involves learning new ways of thinking, relating to oneself and others, and making positive changes in daily life. As we “refreeze” in this step, we are actively adopting these new techniques and allowing them to freeze permanently in our behaviors.


With the support of community-based interventions, individuals can embark on a journey of personal growth and resilience. As they integrate healthier coping mechanisms, develop new skills and make positive changes, they begin to experience personal growth. 

This growth may involve rebuilding trust in themselves and others, improving their self-esteem, establishing healthier boundaries, and setting and achieving meaningful goals. Through ongoing support and guidance, individuals can continue to grow and thrive, even in the face of adversity.

CYDC’s Community-Based Programs

In today’s fast-paced world, ensuring our youth and families’ well-being and positive development is crucial. We understand it takes a community effort to provide the necessary support and resources for young individuals and their families. We are proud to partner with various organizations and government agencies to offer a range of community-based services that support success stories in our community. 

Teen After-School Center (TASC)

The Teen After-School Center (TASC) is a safe and supportive environment designed to enhance child development and well-being. In collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), CYDC hosts this nationally recognized program for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 in Charleston and Berkeley Counties. 

TASC offers structured activities, supervision and assistance with homework during the critical hours between the end of the school day and when parents return from work. By providing a positive and engaging space, TASC aims to improve social, emotional and behavioral health while preventing juvenile justice involvement and the likelihood of incarceration.

Community-Based Prevention Services

CYDC is an active member of a statewide collaborative that delivers timely and culturally competent case management services. This program addresses families assessed as having significant risk factors that could potentially harm their children if left unaddressed. 

This program’s primary objective is to eliminate or substantially reduce identified risk factors for child abuse and neglect while enhancing protective factors within families. By developing comprehensive plans to keep families together and strengthening community networks, we create support systems that uplift families in need.

CYDC’s Family Support Center

Located on CYDC’s North Charleston campus, the Family Support Center is dedicated to providing Lowcountry families with the necessary lifelines and resources they need to thrive. The center offers a range of programs designed to address various aspects of family well-being and growth.

Community-Based Prevention Services

The in-home services provided through Community-Based Prevention Services are tailored to increase a family’s ability to parent effectively and handle everyday stressors. By building a support system and fostering a parent’s confidence in caring for their children, we create a foundation for long-term success and stability.

Family Therapy

Trauma can impact the entire family, and our family therapy sessions create a safe space to address and heal from shared experiences. By promoting open lines of communication and strengthening family bonds, we support the healing process and encourage healthier relationships.

Individual Therapy

Recognizing the importance of individual well-being, CYDC also offers individual therapy to address personal trauma, mental health concerns and overall emotional wellness.

Strengthening Families Program

The Strengthening Families Program is an evidence-based family skills training initiative that equips families with positive discipline practices, resilience in challenging times, improved parenting skills and assistance in nurturing children’s social, relationship and school performance.

CYDC Is Here For Your Family

Is your family or child in need of support? With more than 200 years of experience supporting our nation’s youth and families, Carolina Youth Development Center is equipped to lead your child or family through adversity. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and speak with a member of our team.

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CYDC is now Landmarks for Families!

For more than 230 years, we have guided neighbors toward stronger, hopeful futures and now we’re evolving too. We’re grateful to enter this new chapter with you. Welcome to Landmarks for Families!