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NEWS: Online mental health support service launched for students of the University of Essex

The Charlie Watkins Foundation, Mid and North East Essex Mind and the University of Essex are celebrating the successful launch of a brand-new mental health support service, Chat with Charlie.

Between 6pm and 10pm last night at the Mid and North East Essex Mind office in Colchester, trained volunteers logged into the platform for the first time to provide confidential 1:1 support for students at the University of Essex who may need help with their mental wellbeing.

Chat with Charlie is the first project to be funded by the Charlie Watkins Foundation, which was founded by Harry Watkins in October 2017.

The organisation was set up in memory of Essex-born Charlie Watkins, Harry’s twin brother, who tragically took his life in March 2017. He was only 22 and a student at the University of York.

“It’s been brilliant to see our first project come to life.” Harry said. “We wanted this to be a legacy to Charlie, to ensure students have a safe space to discuss their mental health. “We’re really excited to add Chat with Charlie to the support services that the University of Essex already has in place.”

The foundation aims to raise the awareness of mental health in young people, especially men, and it has secured more than £12,800 in donations on its JustGiving page.

Fundraising and Marketing Manager of Mid and North East Essex Mind, Stephanie Mills, said: “We hope that Chat with Charlie can be rolled out to other universities, so they too can benefit from this.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of this project and working with the Charlie Watkins Foundation to turn something tragic into a venture that can help others like Charlie.”

Chat with Charlie will be open initially three evenings per week between 6pm – 10pm, with the service eventually extending to seven days a week in due course.

To find out more about this service, or if you are a student looking to access the service, please visit the Mid and North East Essex Mind website.