WORCESTER, Mass. - There is widespread concern about what the pandemic is doing to the mental health of adolescents.

In Worcester, a new school-based program aims to address the issue.

UMass Memorial Health’s Community Healthlink C.A.R.E.S. Club (Create. Achieve. Respect. Elevate. Succeed) expanded to Worcester East Middle school.

Community Healthlink will mentor students and provide counseling, along with academic help.

Thirty students will be referred to the program by either their parents or educators. The goal is to improve their performance at school while also helping their relationships with friends and family.

“There has been an increase that we have seen at Community Healthlink in youth having difficulties with anxiety, depression,” Lori Simkowitz-Lavigne, CHL Children’s Services vice president, said. “We’ve seen a lot of difficulty with adjusting back into a school environment.”

East Middle principal Dr. Kareem Tatum said, “Not only will it help to mitigate the components that have negatively impacted our students’ development, but it will provide us the opportunities to really connect with our families in deeper ways.”

The C.A.R.E.S Club is also hoping to address attendance issues for some students. 

Umass Memorial Health calls the program a success, saying they have used it in schools in several central Massachusetts towns.