SPARX e-therapy for young people launched

News article

28 April 2014

SPARX, an online game-style tool to help young people develop skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed has been launched today.

The self-help e-therapy tool teaches young people the key skills they need to help combat depression and anxiety. It was developed by a team of researchers from the University of Auckland, and has been made available for free online through the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project.

‘We know that a lot of young people don’t always want to see a counsellor, therapist or other medical professional,’ Director of Mental Health Dr John Crawshaw says. ‘SPARX does not replace counselling or therapy, but provides another tool for professionals that work with young people who feel down.’

SPARX uses proven cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques in a youth-friendly game format to teach young people how to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, and think in a more balanced way, Dr Crawshaw says.

This includes problem solving, being active, positive cognition, social skills, and relaxation.
Young people can access, register and start using SPARX independently, anonymously and in their own time, making help available to more people around New Zealand.

SPARX is available at www.sparx.org.nz. As well as the SPARX e-therapy programme, the website also offers a mood quiz to help young people identify depression and information on where to get help.

A partnership with Youthline and Lifeline has also been established to provide clinical back up support to SPARX users. The phone line 0508 4 SPARX is staffed by professional counsellors.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project was launched in April 2012 and is investing $62 million over four years on a range of initiatives to improve youth mental health, delivered in schools, online, through communities and health services. 

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