A new school-based program for at-risk youth hopes to prevent mental health and addictions problems before they start.

The Coping and Support Training program has been offered at about six schools over the last year. The 12-hour CAST program teaches kids healthy coping strategies and how to become goal-oriented.

Lisa MacKinnon, a youth addictions counsellor with Health PEI, is teaching the program.

"It's laying a foundation for them and how to manage their worlds," said MacKinnon.

"Not to say that they're not going to have challenges, and things aren't going to be difficult, but if we can teach them in junior high that they have control and that things don't happen to them, that they can actually change the outcomes by changing how they feel about it and how they react to it, that's powerful stuff."

MacKinnon said she's already seen a difference in the students who've gone through the program. She hopes it can be offered at more schools.