An online mental health support service for students is set to be extended to seven days a week from today to mark World Mental Health Day.
Chat with Charlie, which provides confidential support for students at the University of Essex between 6pm and 10pm in the evening, was originally trialled for three days a week when it was launched earlier this year.
Set up in memory of Essex-born Charlie Watkins, a University of York student who took his own life in March 2017 at the age of 22, the scheme has been so successful it will be rolled out all week.
Harry Watkins, Charlie’s twin brother, said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to see Chat with Charlie become a full-time support service,” Harry said. “Helping just one student would have made it all worth it – but to hear it’s helped many more is a phenomenal achievement.
“We’re so excited to see where this will go and we’re immensely proud of this legacy to Charlie.”
Chat with Charlie is a joint enterprise run by the Charlie Watkins Foundation, Mid and North East Essex Mind and the University of Essex and is run from the offices of Mid and North East Essex Mind.
It is the first project to be funded by the Charlie Watkins Foundation – which aims to raise the awareness of mental health in young people – and has secured more than £20,000 in donations on its JustGiving page alone.
Chief Executive of Mid and North East Essex Mind, James McQuiggan, said:
“We’re ecstatic that Chat with Charlie has been such a success and we are immensely proud to be a part of the team behind it.
“Being away from home for the first time can be particularly daunting for students and we hope this platform can provide some comfort while they are doing their studies.”
Angela Jones, Head of Student Support at the University of Essex said:
“Chat with Charlie has been an excellent addition to the services we already have to support students. It was launched here because Charlie was from Essex, but it would be great to see it extended to universities across the country so they can benefit too.”
To find out more about this service, or if you are a student looking to access the service, please visit Mid and North East Essex’s website.