'Reducing Health Inequalities through Digital' HSJ Digital Award page thumbnail

The award acknowledges the successful collaboration between MPFT teams and the Sandbox digital mental health platform, provided by Mindler, to deliver mental health support through a digital medium, aimed at enhancing the experience and reducing disparities for some of society's most vulnerable individuals.


The surge in demand on our Children and Young People's Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team due to the pandemic, lockdowns, and school-related anxieties became overwhelming for our existing service.

The commissioning of Sandbox was a strategic step towards improving our digital offerings, aligning with the NHS Long Term Plan. The objective was to engage with children and young people in their digital comfort zones, in line with feedback received from our community research project. We aimed to alleviate the strain on CAMHS services by offering easily accessible digital support that reduces stigma, raises awareness of mental health issues, and provides early intervention, prevention, and therapeutic interventions (iCBT and one-to-one therapy).

Sandbox serves as an "online hub" for children and young people in South Staffordshire and Hertfordshire, offering a safe space for them to prioritise their mental health. You can discover a wealth of invaluable resources in The Resource Zone. Sandbox is here to assist you in understanding your emotions, engaging with others, and discovering various ways to improve your well-being.

Judges commented, “This is a remarkable digital solution to a complex healthcare problem, impactfully reaching those affected by health inequalities. The judges were captivated by the evident wider benefits that this initiative promises to deliver. They were particularly impressed with the meticulous and thoughtful long-term plan presented for the continued development and expansion of this initiative.”

Claire Bailey, Managing Director of MPFT's Children and Families Care Group, noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic increased the demand for mental health services for children and young people and also changed how they engage with digital healthcare. Feedback from children and young people was integral in leading this opportunity to expand the support available online.”

“Mental health is a serious issue affecting children and young people, who can feel stressed, lonely and frightened and often struggle to cope with the pressure they are feeling. Early intervention and support can make a massive difference and Sandbox offers easily accessible emotional health and wellbeing support for young people and their families in South Staffordshire.”

Neil Carr, MPFT's Chief Executive Officer, stated “We are immensely proud of the teams that were recognised at the HSJ Digital Awards. There is a great deal of work taking place in the Trust to enhance our digital offer which gives our service users new and convenient ways to access our services and receive care.”