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Intersex adolescents seeking help for their depression: the case study of SPARX in New Zealand

journal contribution
posted on 11.04.2021, 23:29 by MFG Lucassen, Y Perry, C Frampton, Theresa FlemingTheresa Fleming, SN Merry, M Shepherd, K Stasiak
Objective: SPARX is a computerized cognitive behavioral therapy self-help program for adolescent depression that is freely available in New Zealand. At registration, users identify themselves as either male, female, intersex, or transgender. We aimed to describe the mental health of adolescent intersex users. Method: A secondary analysis of SPARX usage data over 5 years. Results: Of the 8922 adolescents users, 0.6% (n = 50) identified as intersex. Based on Patient Health Questionnaire 9 – modified for Adolescents (PHQ-A) results, 78.3% of intersex users had high levels of depression and/or self-harm and suicidal ideation. The mean PHQ-A scores for intersex users were significantly higher than for males and females (p <.001). As only three intersex users completed SPARX Level 4 or more (of the seven-level program), we were unable to meaningfully investigate any reductions in their depressive symptoms over time. Conclusions: There is a dearth of empirical data on the mental health of intersex adolescents. These results suggest that intersex adolescents seeking help from an online resource have high mental health needs compared with other young people, possibly because they defer seeking help.


Preferred citation

Lucassen, M. F. G., Perry, Y., Frampton, C., Fleming, T., Merry, S. N., Shepherd, M. & Stasiak, K. (2021). Intersex adolescents seeking help for their depression: the case study of SPARX in New Zealand. Australasian Psychiatry, 103985622199264-103985622199264.

Journal title

Australasian Psychiatry

Publication date





SAGE Publications

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Online publication date






Article number

ARTN 1039856221992642