Reflections on SPARX, a self-administered e-intervention for depression, for Inuit youth in Nunavut

Litwin, Leah; Hankey, Jeffrey; Lucassen, Mathijs; Shepherd, Matthew; Singoorie, Chelsea and Bohr, Yvonne (2023). Reflections on SPARX, a self-administered e-intervention for depression, for Inuit youth in Nunavut. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 47(1) pp. 41–50.



Inuit youth in Canada endure significant mental health challenges, including geographic isolation, economic hardships, mental health stigma, and severely limited access to mental health services in remote Northern communities. Yet Inuit are also among the least likely of all youth in Canada to seek help when experiencing distress. This troubling reality highlights the need for an exploration of self-administered and discreet therapeutic interventions. Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-Factor thoughts (SPARX) is a cognitive–behavioral therapy-based serious game, developed with Māori youth in New Zealand and designed to address depressive symptoms. Inuit wisdom and the scientific literature emphasize the need for any intervention to integrate evidence-based approaches with Inuit-specific cultural practices. Accordingly, to reflect on SPARX’s cultural appropriateness in their communities, 11 Inuit youth and seven community facilitators participated in semi-structured individual, paired, and focus group exit interviews. Participant feedback suggested that the program was engaging and promising as an intervention to improve mood and cognitive coping; however, youth also highlighted the need for a culturally appropriate adaptation of SPARX. By weaving Inuit culture into the game, they felt SPARX could be used to foster community resilience, cultural pride, and youth capacity and engagement while building mental health literacy. Overcoming systemic obstacles to mental health support for Inuit youth in Canada requires innovative, youth-centered approaches. SPARX represents one potential strategy.

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