Need help? Chat with us

Lend a hand
to someone
in need

When someone we know is experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety, it’s tricky to know how to help. That’s where SPARX comes in.


A proven mental health tool for youth

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest a video game as a solution for real-world problems, but SPARX is a proven mental health tool with incredible results.

Designed for teens, SPARX uses tried and tested methods inspired by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help players build and strengthen their emotional resilience and learn valuable skills they’ll keep for life.

A Mum standing behind her daughter on a computer at a dining table

Make a difference, and influence positive change

Game controller icon

Try SPARX for yourself

One way to keep an eye on progress, without feeling too intrusive, is to try SPARX yourself or alongside the player. This way you’re both familiar with what’s going on and can talk it through at your own pace.

Blue hearts icon

Practise learnt skills together

After each SPARX level, it’s important to take time to absorb the lesson and practise these new skills in a real-world setting. By lending a helping hand, you can stay involved and give further insight into the self-help techniques being explored.

Chat icon

Take time to listen

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there; so try make yourself known as someone to reach out to. Eventually, with the help of SPARX, communicating emotions should become easier and something you can both benefit from.

Game controller icon

Bring the fun!

Keeping a positive mindset feels almost impossible for those dealing with mental health struggles.

So, do you part by introducing some fun or positive things each day you’re together.

Heart hand icon

Visit a professional together

Sometimes a trip to the doctor or counsellor might be required. Sharing what’s on your mind isn’t easy, so your guidance in helping your friend or family member talk and express their emotions could make a world of difference.

Concerned about someone?

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

0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279)
or text 3110 for free

Call 111 if you or someone else might be unsafe right now.


Things to know

What is depression?

Usually when we say that someone ‘has depression’ it means they’ve been feeling down, isolated, or haven’t been able to enjoy the things they used to enjoy. It’s something that takes time to evolve, and isn’t simply because they’re sick or something upsetting has just happened.

Depression will affect someone all day, every day, and will more than likely get in the way of their normal school, family, or working life.

Some people feel the effects of depression a lot, others just a little bit; these feelings include overwhelming or inexplicable worry, stress, anger, or numbness. Sometimes there’s no real reason, or people don’t know why they are feeling down, sad, or depressed – they just are.

If you think someone you know might be depressed, you might be right. 1 in 5 NZ youth experience these same feelings and there are many ways to get through it. Start by asking if they’d like to talk to you, a school counsellor; or a healthcare professional – or try SPARX! 

How can I get help right now?

Free phone 0508 4 SPARX (0508 477 279) or free text 3110.

Call 111 if someone you know might be unsafe right now.

See Get Help Now for other options.

Someone can also have no energy and feel bad for other reasons – like if they’re sick or have other health issues (such as being low in iron). Make sure to check this out with a healthcare professional. For more information, head to The Lowdown.

What happens after SPARX?

If SPARX has helped them, keep up the good work and positive vibes by helping them practise their new skills in real life, every day. Or, if they feel confident enough, ask them to share what they’ve learnt, or simply remind them to stay on top of their skills regularly. 

If they’ve completed all levels and they’re still not feeling better, that’s okay! It just means their situation needs some personal time and attention. Talk to them about potentially getting some professional or medical help. 

Are there downsides to e-therapy?

While some worry that using a phone or computer programme might mean that young people are less likely to approach others and reach out for help, it’s actually quite the opposite! Computer programmes can help people learn how to ask for help and how to fully express their thoughts and feelings when the time’s right. 

How do I support someone using SPARX?

There are many ways to help – it all starts by simply making yourself available and willing to listen. It’s also very important that they know you want to help them, and you’re willing to support them.

First, 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’re worried that someone who is using SPARX is not getting better head to our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Remember: SPARX is not a crisis intervention and it’s not enough if someone is suicidal.


Play at home or on the go

Web browser iconApp le App store logoGoogle play store logo
The main character from SPARX standing on a beach

Sign up to start playing SPARX