NEWS: £2 billion being allocated to mental health services as part of the budget announcement

Chancellor Philip Hammond has revealed the government’s plans for spending over the next 12 months today, Monday 29th October 2018.

Amongst the planned spend is an extra £2 billion being allocated to mental health services as part of a bid to make care more dedicated.

The services will include special ambulances that look like normal cars to reduce stigma. These will be used to treat mental illnesses and ensures they are treated as seriously as physical ones.

There will also be specialist mental health support available 24/7 in every accident and emergency department in the country.

Schools will receive a dedicated crisis team to support pupils with mild to moderate mental health illnesses.

Mr Hammond also announced that there will be a new 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.

Founder of the Charlie Watkins Foundation, Harry Watkins, has remarked that this is a “huge step forward” for the UK.

“The £2 billion boost to mental health in the country marks a phenomenal change in attitudes towards individuals who suffer on a day-to-day basis.

“Even though there are reports of declining figures in suicide, this does not take into consideration the staggering amounts of people still suffering from issues with their mental health.

“Dedicated crisis teams in schools in particular are a huge step forward. This will ensure that students’ mental health is supported earlier, and they are not made to feel that they should suffer in silence.”

The announcement comes after Theresa May’s appointed her first ever minister for suicide prevention on World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2018.


Online mental health support service for students extends to seven days a week

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.


Harry heads to Downing Street

Today is a big day for the Charlie Watkins Foundation.

Today our founder, Harry Watkins has been invited to 10 Downing Street by the Prime Minister to mark World Mental Health Day. This news comes as Theresa May has commemorated this special day by appointing her first ever minister for suicide prevention.

Excited for the day ahead, Harry commented:

“This is a great step forward for the foundation and I am thrilled that we have been recognised by the Prime Minister twice in a month. This shows that the foundation has a lot of momentum at the moment and it is something I want to hone and build upon. I would like to thank everyone for their support. The commitment from people fundraising, volunteering and promoting the foundation has got us to where we are now and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The BBC have reported that today’s meeting will also be attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Commenting on the announcement of the appointment of Jackie Doyle-Price as the new suicide prevention minister, Harry Watkins said:

“This is a welcome change made by central government. It is a big step and hopefully one which will create an open conversation between government and organisations like our own, to explore what can be done to prevent more people taking their lives. Even though there are reports of declining figures in suicide, this does not take into consideration the staggering amounts of people still suffering from issues with their mental health. These figures show the risk of what could be and we need to ensure that together, we do all we can to support those who are suffering. There is a long way to go, but I am optimistic that this is a step in the right direction.”


Running the Great East Run for the Charlie Watkins Foundation

A member of our PR team, Abi Gagen, ran the Great East Run to raise money for the Charlie Watkins Foundation. Read her blog on the experience below.

After signing up to the Great East Run in March and running it in September, it’s about time I put digital ink to paper.

The initial idea for this blog post came late on a Friday night while watching Linkin Park’s memorial gig for Chester Bennington, who took his own life on 20th July 2017.

Why is that important? Because people over the continents and in every corner of this world are suffering with their mental health. It doesn’t just affect one type of person, one personality or one stereotype. We all have mental health and we all need to look after it.

I openly admit that I have suffered with my own mental health in the past and understand how fragile it can be. That’s why I was so moved by Harry Watkins’ story and his inner strength to make the loss of his twin brother into a movement for good.

In so little time, the foundation has been able to make great strides towards their mission and earlier this year, launched an anonymous online chatroom for students at the University of Essex, where they can talk about their concerns and receive advice from trained volunteers. This has been aptly named ‘Chat with Charlie’.

This ‘journey’ has not only been physically straining, but also mentally. I have definitely had my fair share of stumbling blocks over the past seven months. Not only coming to grips with my first half marathon, but trying to overcome injury, grief and digging deep to find the inner strength, not to just take the easy road and give up.

But this cause; to raise awareness of the importance of looking after your mental health and letting people know they don’t have to suffer in silence, was just too important to throw in the towel.

So, while I might not be the fittest person, I may have been injury ridden have my own demons to overcome, I was there at that starting line on Sunday 16th September and I gave it my all.

A message that I want to share, is that no matter how low it can get and no matter how isolated the feeling of depression and anxiety can be, you are not alone.

Sometimes in the moment, when emotions are high, it is hard to find solace in those words, but it’s the quiet moments when the wave of feelings have calmed and you are able to appreciate the people around you and just live in the moment, those words become believable.