Mental health app aims to fight depression in teenagers

A prescription is required for SparkRX and the app is being reviewed by the FDA.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Some believe that as a nation, we are in the midst of a mental health crisis that includes our young people.

Oftentimes, there is limited help for those who may not know how to access the help they need.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in five young people have some type of mental health episode over the course of a single year.

The creators of SparkRX believe they can offer some help to parents and their teenagers suffering from depression who cannot schedule a timely appointment with a therapist or a medical provider.

Jessica Lake is the Chief Science Officer at Limbix, the company that developed SparkRX, and she said the app was designed specifically to increase access for teenagers to effective mental health care.

Lake said that access opens teens to treatment that is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

“What Spark is designed to do is, first, learn the relationship between mood and behavior. They learn what they experience affects the way that they feel and that can also work in reverse, you can impact your mood by the way you behave,” she said.

To get started, parents must first take their child to their pediatrician, or other health care provider, where they must obtain a prescription to use the SparkRX app.

Once started, SparkRX is a self-guided program, led by a character in the app, Limbot, that teens may customize to their preference.

As teens begin to understand the relationship between mood and behavior, Lake said, they are able to put that knowledge into practice.

“There’s both the element of skill learning and applying those different examples in the context of the app that are interactive so you can learn this relationship and practice them,” she said.

The app, according to Lake, was designed by Clinical Psychologists and experts in adolescent behavior and included teens specifically in the product development phase.

And as the FDA is involved in the product, there have been clinical trials.

According to Lake, they have seen a meaningful reduction in depression symptoms and a remission rate, in patients who no longer have symptoms, at 21 percent.

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