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E-monitoring and e-therapy for youth depression in primary care

18 months
Approved budget:
Professor Sally Merry
Health issue:
Mental health (and sleep disorders)
Proposal type:
Health Delivery Research Partnership Project
Lay summary
Depression is serious problem affecting more than 50,000 young New Zealanders each year. There are effective psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, but more than three quarters of adolescents with depression never receive treatment. We have developed an effective e-therapy for depressed adolescents, called SPARX. SPARX takes the form of an innovative fantasy game that lets young people learn skills in a virtual world and apply them in real settings. We propose to make SPARX available online and link it electronically with primary care clinicians who 'prescribe' SPARX so they can monitor young people's progress. Young people would be able to contact a clinician and request more support, if needed. We have partnered with Kapiti Youth Service to develop and pilot a system that can be used in day-to-day primary health care settings to make evidence-based therapy more accessible to adolescents.