Our researchers

Chris Hollis (University of Nottingham), Paul Stallard (Bath University), Charlotte Hall (University of Nottingham), Mathijs Lucassen (Open University), 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) 

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.

How Sprouting Minds will be involved in this work

We have lots of ideas for how young people might like to be involved in this project and we’re being guided by a Sprouting Minds sub-group on where to focus and what young people would like to see for this project.

Taking part in the SPARX project has been an exciting and rewarding process. We've been involved at every stage, from playing the game to logo design. I've learned about how the research process operates and worked with incredibly talented and kind young people and researchers. I'm looking forward to seeing how the project develops over the coming months and will continue to advocate for young people to be part of the research cycle.

Loren Townsend-Elliott

Sprouting Minds

Project partners

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