A CONFIDENTIAL chat line for struggling students has been set up in memory of a brother who took his own life.

Chat with Charlie is being launched at Essex University by the Charlie Watkins Foundation.

Charlie Watkins, who grew up in Colchester, was just 22 when he took his own life.

He had just filmed an episode of ITV dating show Take Me Out, after which he was whisked away on a romantic date, when he was found dead by friends at York University.

Harry Watkins, Charlie’s twin brother, who set up the foundation last year to raise awareness for those suffering from mental health difficulties, said: “There is a growing problem in the UK, which is the lack of counselling support for those who need it.

“This is why the CWF, along with Mid and North East Essex Mind, believe in making a change.

“We hope Chat with Charlie will be introduced in universities across the country.

“The idea is to create an online portal for students who may be struggling with their mental health.

“They will be able to log into a chat room to talk with a trained volunteer who can then determine what support they would benefit from.

“This will, therefore, provide a support network for students who may currently be unaware of what their university provides.

“This in turn will help to destroy the stigma surrounding mental health.”

Charlie had spent the day before his death drinking with his brother in Leeds, before enjoying a charity dinner with friends in York.

He was found in his bedroom the following evening on March 13.

At an inquest into his death, his family and friends said Charlie had self-harmed previously and taken anti-depressant medication in the past.

Chat with Charlie will initially be available for students at Essex University, but it is hoped it will also be introduced at the University of York, where Charlie was a student, and other universities across the country.

It will be open from 5pm to 10pm every night.

Harry said: “Our JustGiving page has had an outstanding response and we are thrilled to see the donations being put into the Chat with Charlie service.

“After Charlie’s death, it became clear to us that there is a lack of awareness when it comes to mental health in young people, especially young men. But more importantly, there is a lack of timely support and service provision.

“We hope that Chat with Charlie will help young people at the University of Essex seek the help they need and are able to quickly find the support that’s right for them.”

Mid and North East Essex Mind in partnership with the Charlie Watkins Foundation have designed the service which will be run for their Colchester base by a team of trained staff and volunteers.

Stephanie Mills, marketing and fundraising manager at Mid and North East Essex Mind, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the Charlie Watkins Foundation to establish the Chat with Charlie service for Essex University.

“It is so important students at university feel they have someone to talk to about their wellbeing.

“Factors such as being away from home and exam stress can be hard, and we hope this service can help those who may be finding it tough.”

Essex University already offers a wide range of services for their students including a student services hub as well as an online mental health programme.

Angela Jones, head of student support at the university, said: “We always seek to find new ways to improve opportunities for them to talk about their mental health and Chat with Charlie is a very welcome addition to our existing services.

“We are excited to be working with the Charlie Watkins Foundation.”

For more on the Chat with Charlie service, click here.