Studying on the train

Charlie Watkins Foundation: Two charities, one goal

The Charlie Watkins Foundation works with a variety of charity partners who have the same ambition: to better support young people who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

So when the foundation came across the Charlie Waller Trust (CWT), a charity whose story almost mirrors that of CWF, it was clear that they could make a difference together.

Read more on Charity Today.
Mental health

Mental health support series with Dr Zoe Burgess: Psychotherapy and EMDR

Dr Zoe Burgess

This is the final blog in the mental health support series with Dr Zoe Burgess. Here, Zoe discusses Psychotherapy as well as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Following my last blog on CBT, I will be exploring and summarising two other types of therapy, psychotherapy (including interpersonal and psychodynamic) and EMDR.





Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)

IPT is another time-limited, structured therapy that focuses on relationships and emotions and is most commonly used to treat depression. The underlying belief is that the person’s symptoms are often a response to difficulties they have interacting with others.

The resulting symptoms can then also affect the quality of these interactions, causing a cycle. The thought process behind the therapy is that once a person is able to interact more effectively with those around them, their symptoms can improve.

Sessions will typically be weekly for 50-60 minutes; however the number of sessions will vary depending on the type of mental health difficulty and the level of need that the person has.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

This therapy is aimed at understanding the reasons behind symptoms, emotional distress and relationship difficulties. It helps people to understand difficulties in their current life through looking at past experiences, current ways of thinking/relating and anxieties about the future.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy assumes that part of our mind operates outside of our conscious awareness; and that early experiences in life lay down patterns of relating to others, of dealing with feelings and life’s challenges.

There is a great emphasis on the quality of the relationship between the individual and the therapist; and it is believed that this is a key factor in the success of this therapy.

Sessions will typically last 50-60 minutes and the number of therapy sessions varies. If the difficulties are longstanding, then it is not unusual for sessions to continue over many months. This type of therapy typically lasts a lot longer than those previously discussed.


Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This is the therapy that you may have recently heard that Prince Harry opted for! It is most commonly used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and involves the person recalling the traumatic incident whilst simultaneously making eye movements.

This is usually done by following the movement of the therapist’s finger. Other methods may include the therapist tapping their finger or playing a tone.

Through accessing the traumatic memory, new associations are forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information. Sessions will typically last 60-90 minutes and the number of sessions varies.


As stated at the beginning of this series, this is by no means a comprehensive summary of all available treatments out there. It’s more a glimpse into those that are commonly more routinely available within NHS settings.

If you’d like more information on anything I have discussed in this blog or the series as a whole, you can find the information you need on the NHS website or the National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE).

Mental health

Mental health support series with Dr Zoe Burgess: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Dr Zoe BurgessNext up in the mental health support series with Dr Zoe Burgess, Zoe explores another type of talking therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Following my last blog on medication management and group therapy, I’m going to discuss and summarise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT is a type of talking therapy which is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. It can also be useful for other mental and physical health challenges.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is a time-limited structured talking therapy which is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected; and that – essentially – negative thoughts and feelings can trap us in a vicious cycle.

Individuals are shown how to change these cycles to improve the way they feel. This therapy very much deals with the ‘here and now’; and the changes we can make daily rather than focusing on issues from the past.

In order for this therapy to be successful, it is important that individuals are prepared to carry out home tasks between sessions. Change is unlikely to happen unless we apply the CBT strategies.

Skills/strategies will vary from person to person as CBT should be individually tailored. CBT sessions typically occur weekly and last 50-60 minutes.

The number of sessions will vary depending on the type of mental health difficulty and the level of need.

Specialist CBT interventions

Specialist CBT interventions

An example of this is trauma-focused CBT. While it uses many CBT principles, it is a more specialist intervention that uses a range of psychological techniques. These techniques help individuals come to terms with the traumatic event that they have experienced.

For example, the therapist may ask the person to face their traumatic memories by describing aspects of the experience in detail. During this process, the therapist helps the person to cope with any distress they feel while identifying any unhelpful beliefs they have about the experience.

The therapist can help that person gain control of their fear and distress by reviewing any conclusions that they have drawn about the experience (e.g. feeling to blame for what happened).

People are also encouraged to gradually restart any activities they have avoided since the experience. Sessions will typically last 60-90 minutes and the number of sessions varies.

“Third wave” cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT)

“Third wave” cognitive behavioural therapies

This refers to a group of emerging approaches that represent an evolution and extension of traditional CBT approaches. The focus is often on health and well-being rather than purely on the reduction or elimination of symptoms.

Concepts such as metacognition, acceptance, mindfulness, personal values, and spirituality are frequently incorporated.

Rather than looking solely at the content of a person’s thoughts and internal experiences, the third wave approach instead looks at the context, processes and functions of how a person relates to their internal experiences; such as thoughts, urges and sensations.

Some of the most commonly used third-wave interventions in my experience are: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Metacognitive Therapy.
Sessions will again typically last 50-60 minutes and the number of sessions varies.


If you would like more information on CBT, you can visit the NHS website or the National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE) who can provide more detail including the pros and cons, as well as how to find a CBT therapist.

Stay tuned for my next blog, which will be discussing psychotherapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Mental health

Mental health support series with Dr Zoe Burgess: medication and group therapy

Dr Zoe BurgessWe are extremely fortunate to have a varied team of experts on our Advisory Board. Clinical psychologist Dr Zoe Burgess is part of the team who has vast experience in the role mental health plays in life. In this mental health support series, Zoe summarises some commonly-used mediations for those who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

The field of psychology is ever evolving. This means that our understanding of mental ill health and the associated interventions is always improving. When it comes to addressing our mental health, I hope that you will not be surprised to hear that there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to finding the right fit. This includes (but is not limited to): the specific difficulties that individual is currently facing (or what some would refer to as ‘diagnosis’), the factors that are maintaining current difficulties, that individual’s ability to carry out tasks between sessions (or not) and personal preference.

If you are looking for an in-depth description of all different interventions out there, then I would suggest having a look on the NHS website and also referring to the National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. These will tell you all you need to know about specific mental health difficulties and the evidence-based interventions for these.

There are many different interventions when it comes to mental health. In this series, I will highlight what I understand as the most commonly used in clinical practice. This is based on my experience of working across different NHS settings and within the third sector.


Psychopharmacology (medication management)

This refers to the use of medication in treating mental health conditions. Medication can play a role in improving most mental health conditions. Some people are treated with medication on its own; others are treated with both medication and talking therapy.

Generally speaking, the most effective treatments for mental health difficulties involves a combination of medication and talking therapy. For children and young people under 18, a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Consultant Psychiatrist should be prescribing this. For adults over 18, a GP can do this.

Medication will always require monitoring. In my experience (and perhaps as a slightly biased psychologist), medication is not the recommended first-line treatment – talking therapy is. However, it can be useful in reducing the intensity of someone’s symptoms. This then allows them to benefit more from the talking therapy.

Different people will be suited to different medications. Different people will also be prescribed different doses since it is important to find what we call the ‘therapeutic dose’.


There are many types of talking therapy, but all involve working with trained therapists. This may be one-to-one, in a group, online, over the phone, with family, or with a partner.

The therapist helps people to find answers to the problems they are having. For some problems and conditions, one type of talking therapy may be better than another. Different talking therapies also suit different people.

Group therapy

Group therapy

This will vary depending on the type of difficulties that someone is experiencing and on the therapeutic model that it is based on.

In my experience, group therapy is most often psychoeducational and skills-based. This means that the group is aimed at helping people to understand their symptoms better and learn day-to-day coping strategies for these.

Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy. Again, in my experience groups are mainly closed groups and meet once a week for anything between 60-120 minutes and the number of group sessions is variable.


I hope these brief summaries in medication management and group therapy have been useful to you. If you’d like to investigate these in further detail, visit the NHS website.

The next blog in this series will be exploring another type of talking therapy.



Henry Ives after he had completed his 50km challenge

50km ultra-marathon raises more than £3,600

The Charlie Watkins Foundation is extremely fortunate to have many supporters who give up their free time to raise funds for our cause – we call them Charlie’s Champions! One such Champion is Henry Ives, who ran a 50km ultra-marathon across Dartmoor and has to date, raised more than £3,600.

Read more on Charity Today


You’ve got a friend in us

Amid the numerous lockdowns and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, friendships have never been more important. Meaningful friendships help us feel less alone and supported in times of need. Here, we discuss the value of friendships and how to reach out to someone who might be struggling.

If you search the NHS for tips on improving your mental health and wellbeing, number one on the list is connecting with other people.

Various suggestions listed under this point include taking time out of each day to be with friends or family as well as having lunch with a colleague.

Forming friendships means that we gain the opportunity to share experiences as well as the mutual benefit of providing emotional support to one another.

But what do you do if you think you friend is struggling with their own mental health and wellbeing?

Reaching out

It can be worrying when you think your friend is going through a tough time. You might see that they are distant from you and spending more time on their own. They could even be doing out of character things such as using drugs or drinking heavily.

Finding the words to ask your friends about how they’re feeling can be difficult, but one way or another they’re sure to appreciate you reaching out to them.

You could try phrases such as “we haven’t talked in a while, what’s new with you?” or simply “I’m here for you if you want to talk”.

Some friends may be reluctant to open up at first, so it’s important to remain patient and let them talk to you in their own time.

If you’re worried about their safety, call 111 or 999 if it’s an emergency.

Looking after yourself

It’s always good to support a friend, but it’s also crucial that you look after yourself at the same time. You should try not to take on too much and talk about your own feelings with someone you trust as well.

If you don’t have someone you can trust, there are lots of people you can talk to. The Samaritans are open 24/7 on 116 123 if you need to talk about anything that’s upsetting you. If you’re under 25, there’s also The Mix text message service that’s open Sunday – Friday from 2pm – 11pm.

At the Charlie Watkins Foundation, we strive to raise funding for vital projects to help young people across the UK who are facing serious mental health challenges.

With your help, we can continue our vital work and give support to young people who need our help the most. If you would like to help us to continue to make a difference, please consider making a donation.

Captain Tom 100

Can you help us raise £10,000 to support young people’s mental health?

National sensation Sir Captain Tom Moore provided a message of hope among the chaos at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when he vowed to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS. Following his death earlier this year, the Captain Tom 100 campaign was launched. Here Harry Watkins, co-founder of the Charlie Watkins Foundation, discusses why we are taking part and how your donations help fund our vital work.

The devastating news of Sir Captain Tom Moore’s death in February shocked the nation.

The 100-year-old had been a beacon of hope for many during the coronavirus pandemic. His astonishing challenge to raise £1,000 for the NHS in 2020 ended up yielding more than £30 million.

Although Sir Captain Tom Moore passed away before he could reach his 101st birthday, his legacy lives on and people from all around the world have been participating in the Captain Tom 100 challenge, with the aim of encouraging people to raise money for a charity of their choice.

“Tomorrow will be a good day” – Sir Captain Tom Moore

Sir Captain Tom Moore’s simple message of hope “tomorrow will be a good day” rings poignantly true for us here at the Charlie Watkins Foundation.

Our project work has seen us witness the devastating impact the pandemic is having on young people who have faced isolation and uncertainty following the closure of schools and universities. In fact, more than two thirds of young people have said their mental health got worse during lockdown.

Plus, many without previous experience of mental health challenges have experienced poor mental health during lockdown and have seen their mental health and wellbeing decline.

This is why we are urging our incredible community at the Charlie Watkins Foundation to take part in Sir Captain Tom’s 100 legacy to help us raise £10,000 to continue our vital work with young people struggling with mental health challenges.

100 heroes, £10,000

We are asking 100 heroes to come forward and raise £100 for us.

This could be walking 100 laps of your garden just like Sir Captain Tom and asking friends and family to sponsor you; or you could bake 100 cupcakes to sell at £1 each!

Perhaps you don’t have time to host a fundraiser and would prefer to donate £100. Anything to help us reach our goal would be so appreciated.

Ten thousand pounds will make a huge difference to our partnering charities and it will mean that we can continue our remarkable work of supporting young people’s mental health.

We are already working with Student Minds, the student’s mental health charity and the Youth Enquiry Service (YES) in Essex; both of whom are working tirelessly on our special projects.

Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter’s student panel has been working on a brief to create the assessment tool to recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and wellbeing. Plus, YES has been actively working with many school students through the school navigator role.

Our 100 heroes will have pride of place on our Charlie’s Champions page; recognising their phenomenal efforts to help us create change and continue our work.

Get involved!

With depression rates double what they were since the pandemic began, now is the time to act.

No matter how you raise your £100, you have our support and guidance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you are stuck for ideas or you need some advice.

Visit our Captain Tom 100 campaign page to donate your fundraised £100 and earn a spot on our Charlie’s Champions page.

As always, we thank you for your continued support and let us hope that “tomorrow will be a good day”.


Let’s talk loneliness

Following a year of lockdowns and uncertainty, it’s no wonder there is a clear surge in people experiencing loneliness. After all, we are instinctively social beings so when that need is not met, we naturally feel isolated. In this blog we explore the differences between feeling alone and feeling lonely and how you can help those who might be struggling.

In March 2020, the country was sent into lockdown following the rising cases of coronavirus. Two more lockdowns later, we are still in the midst of the pandemic with no obvious route out.

It is a scary and confusing time. We have seen people unable to see family and friends for months on end, with others having to shield themselves away from the rest of the world because the risks of catching the virus were too great.

Understandably there has been a huge rise in loneliness during this time which is in turn contributing to heightened feelings of anxiety and stress.


Feeling alone vs. feeling lonely

Loneliness is a very personal emotion. Everyone’s experience will be different but one thing we do know is that loneliness is not the same as feeling alone.

Some people are very happy to be alone with minimal human contact while others may experience loneliness because of this. Similarly, you could be in a crowded room full of people and still feel lonely.

Loneliness is being unable to connect with someone whereas feeling alone is the physical state of not being with someone else.

Loneliness does not discriminate, and it can have a negative impact on your mental health.


Making connections

Something that can help relieve the feelings of loneliness is making connections. This could be as simple as sending a text to a friend or a random act of kindness.

We would therefore like to encourage all of you to take five minutes out of your day to make a connection this week. Whether it’s to a loved one or someone you have not talked to in a while, you could make someone’s day!


Charlie’s Champions: FAQs

You may have seen on social media that we’re recruiting Charlie’s Champions to volunteer their time to our foundation and become, well, a champion! Take a look at our FAQs of what it involves below.


  1. What exactly is a Charlie’s Champion?

A Charlie’s Champion is someone who has donated their time to the foundation or fundraised for us. It could be that someone has decided to run a marathon in aid of the Charlie Watkins Foundation or perhaps they are blogging regularly on our website.


  1. I’m busy and I can’t dedicate all my time to the foundation

We understand! Charlie’s Champions can contribute as little or as much time as they’d like to our cause and, if they have no time at all, any donations are most welcome as they go towards funding our vital mental health projects for young people.


  1. I’m not local – can I still become a Champion?

Absolutely! We have Champions from all over the UK. You are more than welcome to organise your own events – we are here to support you so do contact us if you’d like any help with this.


  1. What have Champions done in the past?

All sorts! You can take a look at our current Champions on our website. We have some who have run marathons and others who have hosted virtual wine evenings!


  1. I’m organising an event – how do I let you know?

Feel free to contact us if you are organising your own event. We will support you in whatever way we can and can also ensure our PR team get the word out on the Charlie Watkins Foundation’s social media pages and the website.


If you have any other questions regarding becoming one of our Champions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Charlie Watkins Foundation strives to raise funding for vital projects to help young people across the UK who are facing serious mental health challenges.

With your help, we can continue our vital work and give support to young people who need our help the most.