Our researchers

Chris Hollis (University of Nottingham), Paul Stallard (Bath University), Charlotte Hall (University of Nottingham), Mathijs Lucassen (City, University of London), Sally Merry (University of Auckland), Karolina Stasiak (University of Auckland), Chris Greenhalgh (University of Nottingham), Camilla Babbage (University of Nottingham), Kareem Khan (University of Nottingham), Adam Parker (University of Nottingham), Kirsty Sprange (University of Nottingham), Chris Tench (University of Nottingham), Holly Griffiths, Lily Roberts (University of Nottingham)

SPARX is a game that was developed by researchers in New Zealand to support young people with depression. In the game you are an avatar who must navigate through levels in a fantasy world where you learn different ways to manage your mood. There are seven levels in total, and in each level, you have different tasks to complete. These tasks are based on cognitive behavioural therapy, an intervention recommended for people with depression. SPARX has been shown to have positive results in supporting young people with depressive symptoms in New Zealand and other areas of the world. We now want to see whether SPARX may be helpful for young people in the UK.


We also want to know what can be done to make SPARX more engaging and attractive to young people. For those who complete SPARX, we want to explore if additional human support means young people find SPARX more engaging. This means we need to first conduct a small-scale study to test these things in order to help us plan a larger study in the future.

Throughout this process we will be recording what works or doesn’t work, so we can apply this to a bigger trial in the future.

Young people’s thoughts on participating in the SPARX trial:

[Taking part in the study]

“I'd say give it a try... If you don't like it, then you don't like it, but if it does help you, then it does help you. Because I think it's a good concept… appealing to people with like stuff to do with mental health, I think that's a pretty good idea.”

Young Person

Parent’s thoughts on participating in the SPARX trial:

[Would you recommend other parents of children with depression to take part?]

“I think we're lucky to have had the chance for him to do it. And yeah, I hope you do roll it out because it will be a good tool for lots of people to be able to have… As well as it being a way that more kids might want to engage with, it is also just really hard to get face to face. You know, the waiting lists are really, really long... so any anything that can be rolled out to help because there's so many kids struggling with this stuff, it's great. So yeah, definitely.”

Parent 1

“Definitely to give it a go, I just think well, you know you've got nothing to lose really, have you?”

Parent 2

“Definitely, yeah. Because it's a game. So if especially if there's a child that likes tech and likes games, it's ideal, isn't it?”

Parent 3

Project partners

University of Bath
University of Auckland
University of Nottingham
The Open University