Frequently Asked Questions

General

 

What is depression?

Usually when we say that someone 'has depression' it means:
  • They have been feeling down, sad or depressed or they don’t enjoy things that they used to enjoy;
  • It’s not only because they’re sick or something upsetting has just happened;
  • The feeling has been happening most of the day, almost every day for at least two weeks; and / or;
  • It’s getting in the way of their normal school, family or working life.

Some people have some of these feelings a lot, others just a little bit. Some people will feel worried, stressed, angry, or just not feel much at all, rather than feeling sad or down a lot.

Sometimes there’s no real reason, or people don’t know why they are feeling down, sad or depressed … they just are.

If you feel bad because of something upsetting or nasty happening to you, find someone who can help. This could be a family member, a health professional, or an adult who you can trust.

If you are having any thoughts about hurting or killing yourself, you need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

See 'Get Help Now' for other options.

You can also have no energy and feel bad for other reasons – like if you are sick or sometimes if you have another health issue (such as being low in iron). You can check this out with a health professional.

For more information see http://www.thelowdown.co.nz.

If you’re feeling like you might be depressed, you’re not alone. Many people have times of feeling depressed or anxious and there are lots of things you can do to help yourself to feel better. Talk with an adult who you can trust or your school counsellor or see your doctor or nurse, or try SPARX! Check out here where to get help.

Who is SPARX for?

SPARX is for young people aged 12-19 who want help with feeling down, depressed, worried or stressed.

Is SPARX a game?

No. SPARX looks like a game but actually it’s a self-help tool, designed to help people who are feeling down or stressed out. At the beginning of each level of SPARX you meet the Guide who talks to you about real life and things that you learn in SPARX. You then go through a portal into the ‘game world’. In the ‘game world’ you learn and practice skills in a fantasy environment. After that you come back to the Guide to work out how to use the skills in real life. This means SPARX may feel more like a game than lots of counselling or therapy, but it's actually a tool, designed to help people who are feeling down or stressed out.

What does S P A R X stand for?

Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic X-factor thoughts!

How does it work?

SPARX uses proven therapeutic skills in a game like way. Instead of reading about new ways of doing things from a book, or talking with someone, SPARX shows you new ways of thinking and acting and lets you try them out in safe way.  SPARX uses multiple learning strategies, including fun and active ways of learning.  The main kind of therapy that SPARX uses is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).  CBT is one of the main recommended treatments for young people (and adults) with depression. There is a lot of research to show that CBT helps.

Would SPARX help me?

If you are feeling depressed, down, worried or stressed or just not enjoying life much at the moment SPARX could help you. To get the most out of SPARX you should do one or two levels a week, do all the exercises and practise the skills in real life.  Even if you start to feel better it’s worth doing all seven levels of SPARX so you can get the most out of it. If you like, you can share what you have learnt with someone you trust. Ask them to help you practise or remind you of the new skills you’ve learnt.

No one thing will work for everyone, so if you feel very down, stressed or you’ve tried SPARX and you’re not feeling better, then check out our Get Help Now section to find out how and where to get help.

If you are having any thoughts about hurting or killing yourself, you need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110.
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

You can try SPARX alongside getting Help Now.

Remember you are not alone, there's always someone to talk with and life does get better.

How do I get the most out of SPARX?

It is better that you do SPARX over a period of time, completing one or two levels a week, rather than doing it all at once. You can then practice the skills in real life before moving onto the next level.

Each level takes about half an hour. Even if you start to feel better it’s worth doing all seven levels of SPARX so you can get the most out of it. If you like, you can share what you have learnt with someone you trust. Ask them to help you practise or remind you of the new skills you’ve learnt.

Would SPARX help my friend/family member?

SPARX is for young people aged 12-19 who want help with feeling depressed, down, worried or stressed. Older and younger people who have used it have said it was helpful, but this has not been researched yet.

If the person is not safe in their family or, is feeling suicidal, is behaving in a very odd or bizarre way or has a lot of major problems then seek professional advice. A GP (family doctor) is a great place to start. Check out where to get help.

If the person you are concerned about is having any thoughts about hurting or killing themself, they need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

What can I do to start feeling better?

We’d love to wave a magic wand to stop people feeling low. Unfortunately, we can’t do that. However, there are some simple things that you can do to improve your mood and health.

Check out the Get Help Now section for ways to get help, do SPARX, or try some of these ideas:

DO IT: Have things to do each day.  Getting on with chores, having some fun, getting onto a course, or getting a job can help.

DO IT: Build up your skills – get good at something! It might be music, work skills or anything positive that you are into.

DO IT: Exercise so that you build up a sweat for half an hour or more three times a week.  This can activate the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.

RELATE: Connect with family or whanau, connect with your own culture or church or spend time with people who believe in you.

RELATE: Talk and listen.  Talking with someone like a counsellor, a teacher, a friend, a GP or a youth worker can help.

SOLVE  IT: One by one and bit by bit, solve problems that are getting you down.  Deal with one problem at a time and get someone to help if it’s hard.

BALANCE: Keep life in balance, try having some fun, do some work, be kind to others each day.  Healthy exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs and getting enough sleep can help.

GET HELP if it’s hard: There are loads of people who are able and willing to help you. Asking for help can be the most scary but most rewarding thing you’ll do.

GET HELP: Counselling or therapy can really help.  Speak to a counsellor, doctor, youth worker or call a telephone helpline (like 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279), or free text 3110) or look up a good website like The Lowdown or click here.

MEDICATION: For some people taking medication like antidepressants can help.  Talk with a doctor if you would like to know more.

If you are having any thoughts about hurting or killing yourself, you need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110.
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

What should you do when you finish browsing/using SPARX?

You should sign out or close your browser once you have finished using the Website or SPARX. Then others cannot access your personal information and correspondence.

What happens after SPARX?

Hopefully SPARX helps you, but there are always challenges and hard times.  If you still feel down or you want more help, Get Help Now.

If you are having any thoughts about hurting or killing yourself, you need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110.
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

What are the downsides of a computer program for helping people?

Some people worry that using a computer program might mean that young people are less likely to ask other people for help. In fact, the reverse may be true. Computer programs can help people learn how to ask for help and how to talk about what is going on.

However if someone is feeling very down or is having any thoughts about hurting or killing themself, they need to reach out and talk with someone who is trained to help right now:

  • Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) / free text to 3110.
  • Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.

How do I support someone using SPARX?

There are lots of ways to help someone using SPARX. It’s really important that they know you want to help them, and you’re willing to support them. Ask them what support they would like. You could offer to:
  • Sign Up for SPARX yourself so you can try it out and see how it works;
  • Do SPARX alongside the person;
  • Help them practise skills from SPARX;
  • Help them deal with issues that are bothering them;
  • Help them do some fun or positive things each day.
  • Help them talk to a doctor, school health nurse or counsellor.

If you are worried that someone who is using SPARX is not getting better - Get Help Now. SPARX is not a crisis intervention and it’s not enough if someone is suicidal.

Is it private?

Yes, we take your privacy seriously. Your registration details and things you answer in SPARX are encrypted and stored on a secure server. You can read more about it our Privacy Statement.

SPARX does not share any information about you with anyone. Not with family, not with friends and not through social media such as Facebook.

What information is collected while I use SPARX and why?

When you complete SPARX, you will be asked to fill out a brief form to rate your mood in Level 1, 4 and 7.

SPARX will suggest that you to seek extra help if your mood is low.

How do we use the information we collect?

We use the information for the following purposes:
  • to monitor if SPARX is effective;
  • to communicate with you about our goods and services from time to time;
  • to generate an overview of the user base;
  • to analyse trends and demographics to assist us to improve our services;
  • facilitate our internal business operations, including to fulfil our legal requirements, quality assurance and management purposes.

If we report on the Website and SPARX, including under our funding arrangements, we will report on a de-identified basis unless we obtain your written approval.

How secure is the information we collect from you?

We take reasonable steps to protect all information, which we hold (including your personal information) from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

Information contained in on the website is protected by encryption and firewall technology.

We take reasonable steps to hold information securely in electronic or physical form. We store information in electronic databases requiring logins and passwords.

We are not involved in the selling, trading or the unauthorised use of personal information.

Outside of information that you enter on the web site, we also receive and store certain types of information when you interact with the website. This is provided through the use of cookies.

Are there other computer programs I could try?

Yes. There are other computer programs to help with depression, including MoodGYM and The Journal, while other online resources include The Lowdown and Depression.org.

Technical Support

 

Help with using SPARX and SPARX computer problems

Will SPARX run on my computer/device?

SPARX is compatible with most browsers on PC and Mac.

A SPARX app is available to download on Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android). We recommend downloading the app via wifi as the file is large.

How do I use SPARX?

You will need to register before using SPARX. You can do this on either the website or app.

What happens when I register?

When you register you create an online account.

You need to type in a name and create a password.

If you want to receive reminders, you can enter your phone number or email.

After registering

You will need to login to use SPARX.

You can edit your email address and your mobile phone number on your profile page.

I can't open/ load/ save

If you are having any problems with SPARX, please contact us via our Contact page. To help us to resolve your issue as quickly as possible, it would be helpful if you remember what happened at the time of the problem being caused, and our technical experts will look into it.

SPARX doesn’t display correctly on the my computer

Make sure the browser’s display is set at the default setting of 100%. If the settings are not at 100%, the game will not display correctly. Please check your browser settings.

How do I get the best performance while using SPARX?

For best performance make sure other applications aren't running at the same time as SPARX as this could cause the programme to freeze or run slowly. It helps if all other tabs or internet windows are closed as well.

If you are using multiple screens and you click on the screen not running SPARX, SPARX video and sound will pause. Simply click back on the SPARX screen to continue.

I forgot my password and/or user name

If you have forgotten your password, click here and click on the “Request new password” link. You will be asked to enter your email address. On pushing the “send” button you will receive an email with a link so that you can enter a new password. Your username will be in the greeting line of the email.

Please remember that your username is your name or nickname you chose when you first registered for SPARX.

We do not store your passwords (they are encrypted).

How to unsubscribe to text and/or email notifications?

You can login to SPARX then click VIEW PROFILE and unclick SPARX reminders via email and/or SPARX reminders via txt.

I clicked on a website link and SPARX has closed

If you are using SPARX and click on any of the website links that are outside the main SPARX area you will need to click on the “START SPARX” button at the top of the website to restart SPARX.

What are cookies?

Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that are placed on your computer's hard drive through your web browser. Cookies enable our systems to recognise your browser and welcome you back to the website.

By disabling cookies, you will not be able to participate in some of the features offered by the website.

Most internet browsers are pre-set to accept cookies. If you prefer not to receive cookies, you can adjust your browser to disable or to warn you when cookies are used.

We recommend that you leave your cookies enabled otherwise you will not be able to use the website to its full extent.

Our cookies don't send back any information to us about your computer or any other information on your hard drive.

The Game won’t launch or other issues- things to try.

Web version

  • If you have more than one browser on your computer (e.g. Internet Explorer and Chrome), try playing in a different browser.
  • Try closing all other browser tabs before playing SPARX, to maximise the computer memory available for SPARX.
  • SPARX works best in recent browser versions. If your browser is older, update it if you can.
  • Try just playing the level again (note this will unfortunately mean starting again at the beginning of the level).
  • SPARX may not play correctly on touch-based devices. If possible, try playing it on an ordinary PC or Mac.

App version

  • Check that your phone/tablet is compatible. We currently support Apple iOS and Android.
  • Ensure you are connected to mobile data or wifi. The game may stop working if you do not have an active connection.

I live in New Zealand but get the international page asking me to pre-register for SPARX?

If you are located in New Zealand you should have access to SPARX already. If you are getting the international page it means our website thinks you are coming in from overseas this may happen if your internet IP address has a block (VPN) so you can access overseas restricted websites e.g. Netflix USA. You can try checking this.

Alternatively can you Google "my ip address" and send through the number it gives you to us via the Contact page and we will see if we can provide bypass access.