For young people

Is SPARX a game?

SPARX looks like a game but it’s a self-help tool for rangatahi with mild to moderate depression.

At the beginning of each level you meet the Guide who talks to you about real life and what you will learn.

You enter a portal into the ‘game world’ where you will learn and practice skills. After that the Guide helps you work out how to use the skills in real life. This means SPARX may feel like a game, but it’s actually an e-therapy tool.

How does it work?

SPARX uses therapeutic skills in a game like way. Instead of learning new ways of doing things from reading a book, or talking with someone, SPARX uses many different fun and active learning strategies that you can practise safely in the game setting.

The main kind of therapy is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT helps support people with depression and anxiety and is one of the main recommended treatments for people with depression.

SPARX can help you learn how to have Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts!

Would SPARX help me?

If you are feeling depressed, down, worried, stressed or just not enjoying life much at the moment SPARX could help you.

No one thing will work for everyone, so if you feel very down, stressed or you’ve tried SPARX and are 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 complete one or two SPARX levels a week, rather than doing all levels at once. You can then practise 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, you get the most out of doing all seven levels of SPARX. If you like, ask someone you trust to help you try out the new skills you’ve learnt.

What can I do to start feeling better?

There are heaps of different things you can do to help you feel better and using SPARX is a great place to start!

If you’re looking for other things to try, check out our Get Help Now section or try some of these ideas:


  • Have something to do each day. It might be something fun, start a project or complete a chore.
  • Build up your skills. Learn a new skill or – get good at something! It might be music, sports, work skills or anything positive that you enjoy doing in your spare time.
  • Keep fit. Exercise, so that you build up a sweat, for half an hour or more, about three times a week. This can activate the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.
  • Connect with people. Connect with family/whānau or mates, connect with your own culture or church or spend time with people who believe in you.
  • Talk and listen. Talking with someone like a counsellor, a teacher, a friend, a GP or a youth worker can help.
  • 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.
  • Keep life in balance. Try having some fun, do some work, and be kind to others every day. Healthy exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs and getting enough sleep can help you feel better.
  • Get help if you need it. There are lots of people who are able and willing to help you.
  • Try speaking to a counsellor, doctor, or youth worker. Or, if it’s easier you can call a helpline (like 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279), or free text 3110) or use online resources like The Lowdown
  • For some people taking medication like antidepressants can help. Talk with your doctor if you want to know more


Asking for help can be scary, but also rewarding! Counselling or therapy can be a great way to start feeling better.

What is depression?

Everyone goes through tough times where they feel sad or down. It can be triggered by an event like dealing with stress, disappointments or grief but sometimes there’s no noticeable trigger.

Here are some signs that you, or someone you know, might be depressed:


  • Feeling down, sad or depressed and not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • These negative feelings last for most of the day, almost every day for at least a couple of weeks
  • These negative feelings are getting in the way of normal everyday life, school, family or working life


If you are having negative feelings because of something upsetting or nasty happening to you, find someone you can talk to who can help. This could be a family/whānau member, a health professional, or an adult you can trust.

Sometimes if our physical health is poor (like when our body lacks important nutrients), this can make us have no energy and feel bad too. Chat with your doctor if you think your physical health might be making you feel bad. You can also have no energy and feel bad for other reasons – like an illness or another health issue (such as being low in iron). You can check this out with a health professional.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone!

Many people of us have felt depressed or anxious and there are lots of things you can do to help yourself to feel better. Talk with an adult you can trust, speak with your school counsellor, see your doctor, try SPARX, or check out online resources, like The Lowdown.

If this is an emergency phone 111 or go to your local Emergency Department.

Or you can free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) and free text to 3110 to speak to a trained counsellor or health professional. For further resources, check out our Get Help Now section or see below. If you’d like to give SPARX a try, click here.

Asking for help can be scary, but also rewarding! Counselling or therapy can be a great way to start feeling better.