eLearning Forum - SPARX



Werry Workforce Whāraurau are proud to be able to offer a series of online trainings. These eLearning Forums

provide an opportunity for ongoing education and connection for the ICAMH, AOD, NGO and PHO sectors


Presenters: Professor Sally Merry and Dr Karolina Stasiak
Facilitator: Bronwyn Dunnachie

Professor Merry is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, the Cure Kids Duke Family Chair in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and the Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland. Professor Merry has spent the last 20 years researching the development and implementation of effective therapies in child and adolescent mental health including computerised and mobile phone-based interventions and has undertaken a number of Cochrane Collaboration meta-analyses. She led a team that developed and tested a computerised therapy in the form of an avatar-based fantasy game for young people with depression called SPARX (www.sparx.org.nz). This effective therapy has been available as a national e-therapy service in New Zealand since 2014 and is identified as an evidence-based therapy in the NICE Guidelines. She has carried out a number of large clinical and prevention trials to find better ways of delivering psychological therapies for mental health for children and adolescents including trials on depression prevention, on psychological treatments in child and adolescent mental health services and in infant mental health services.  She established and led a team to develop and test an ecosystem of digital therapies, HABITS (Health Advances through Behavioural Intervention Technologies) for young people as part of the National Science Challenge, a Better Start E Tipu E Rea. This work has included the development of online screening, web and native apps and chatbots to support emotional regulation in younger and older adolescents, and to address problems of self-harm and substance abuse. Professor Merry has also philanthropic funding through Cure Kids to develop and test digital therapies to support parents of younger children.

Dr Karolina Stasiak is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychological Medicine, at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. She was a co-developer of SPARX and was involved in its national launch in 2014. Karolina has worked on a number of digital health projects, including a community implementation of BRAVE, an online anxiety tool, in Canterbury in the wake of the earthquakes. Since 2017, she’s worked on a Better Start National Challenge Science, and has led the creation of a number of new digital health tools (some of which she’s going to introduce today). Karolina was born in Poland but for over 25 years now she’s called New Zealand her home.

This presentation will over view online tools Sparx, Aroha chat box and Quest Te Whitianga and how these can be used in practice with young people and whānau


Weekly eLearning Forum Thursday 2 July, 10:00 to 11:00