The Sandbox Project to receive $450,000 in funding to build Virtual Mental Health Support Network for youth living with mental illness

Phase two of the Sandbox Mental Health Initiative will help youth track their moods, activities, and response to treatment, while keeping in touch with healthcare providers

TORONTO, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, The Sandbox Project announced $450,000 in joint funding to kick-start the second phase of The Sandbox Mental Health Initiative - a new virtual health network and mobile app to support youth and their families in the treatment of mental illness. Announced at The Sandbox Project 4th Annual National Conference and Workshop, funding support comes from TELUS, the RBC Foundation, the Graham Boeckh Foundation and the Echo Foundation.

Building on the success of the Mental Health Engagement Network (MHEN), a similar network and app for adults with mental illness delivered by Lawson Health Research Institute in partnership with Canada Health Infoway and TELUS Health, this app is aimed to help youth and their families proactively manage their mental illness. Through the app, users will have access to records containing their health information and can stay connected with their network of care providers through instant messaging. The app, which will be tested by approximately 150 youth patients, also includes regular surveys to gauge mood levels, and the ability to track activities from taking medication to visits with the doctor.

An estimated 1.2 million Canadian children and youth are affected by mental illness—yet less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment. With more than two-thirds of adults living with a mental health problem reporting that symptoms first appeared during their youth, establishing the foundation for healthy emotional and social development is vital early on.

Internationally-renowned expert in adolescent mental health, Dr. Stanley Kutcher, MD, will play a leading role in phase two of the Sandbox Project Mental Health Initiative and knows firsthand the benefits that this technology can have for patients and healthcare providers.

"We are thrilled to have generous supporters to help fund this initiative," said Kutcher. "We know it will help make a positive change in the lives of youth dealing with mental illness and we are looking forward to this new phase of a project we believe in so strongly."

With the support of its funders, Sandbox hopes to use technology as an opportunity to ease the many burdens associated with youth mental health and to better enable productive collaboration between care recipients and their primary caregivers and providers.

"TELUS is committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of children and youth and fully supports the acceleration of healthcare transformation through the important work and research of partners like The Sandbox Project," said Paul Lepage, president, TELUS Health. "Over the past 13 years, TELUS has contributed more than $100 million in funding to organizations focused on improving the health and well-being of the communities where we live, work and serve."

About The Sandbox Project

The Sandbox Project was created to improve the health of Canada's children and youth. The goal of The Sandbox Project is to make measurable progress against international health indicators within the next five years, with a particular focus on improving health outcomes for Canadian children with respect to injury prevention, obesity, mental health, and the environment. Working directly with parents, business, health industry leaders, governments and non-governmental organizations, The Sandbox Project seeks to raise awareness, pursue research, and collaborate to develop solutions and better public policy.

For more information on The Sandbox Project, visit: