Who am I?

I’m Kerry and I am Alopecia UK’s Support Project Manager. I live in Sheffield with my two daughters and have a cat called Gizmo. I like to keep fit (when I can and when work and children allow), socialise and I love settling down with a good box set to binge watch. I do not have alopecia; however, I do have a visible difference. I have a genetic condition called Crouzon Syndrome which affects the appearance of my face.

My Background

I completed my BSc in Psychology in 2004, and my MSc in Developmental Psychopathology in 2005. I have worked clinically within mental health services for the last 14 years across different settings. In 2008 I started work with the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service, an NHS initiative to increase access to talking therapies to those experiencing anxiety and depression. Working alongside GP’s I provided guided self-help (based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques) to people with anxiety and depression. I was also involved in establishing a service for people with skin conditions in Sheffield to improve access to support.

Working in different settings allowed me to gain some very valuable skills, but I was always hoping to one day work with people with conditions which affect appearance. As I am personally aware of some of the struggles people can experience and the lack of support that is often available (both to the individual and to family members), I wanted to help! and after some thinking and google searching I found a PhD that sounded like a great way to achieve this. I completed my PhD ‘The role of mindfulness in social anxiety for people living with visible skin conditions’ in 2017. It remains one of my proudest achievements and I am thankful to all those who helped me.

During and following completion of my PhD I have worked with charities working with people living with conditions which affect appearance, supporting the delivery of community-based interventions (e.g. peer support). In addition, I have provided advice and consultancy to charities to assist them in the development and delivery of support services,

How did I get involved with Alopecia UK?

I was extremely fortunate to have Professor Andrew Messenger as part of my PhD supervisory team. Andrew became a sort of mentor to me and his passion for supporting people with hair loss definitely led me towards wanting to focus on alopecia in my work. My first contact with Alopecia UK was at a dermatology conference where Amy Johnson and I had a lot of great conversations about what support was needed by people with alopecia. From this I became involved in the hair loss PSP and the AUK report on wig provision.

I have worked with Alopecia UK over the last five years. I have presented at events and run workshops, all the while increasing my knowledge of the impact of alopecia and what interventions could support people. I am especially passionate about peer support as I feel that meeting others to share experiences can be very meaningful and helpful. Jen discussed a potential role within the charity to manage the support provision and I was very keen, and that leads us to now.

What are my hopes for Alopecia UK?

I have always thought Alopecia UK does peer support really well (of course they do lots of other things well too!). My hope is that as a charity we can continue to build upon this success and make things even better. I hope we can extend the support provision available by increasing our network of support groups and providing ongoing training and support for all our volunteers. It’s a strong team and having a dedicated staff member on support provision means everyone can focus a bit more on their strengths and develop the charity even further. I want everyone to know about Alopecia UK!

Publications

Montgomery, K., Thompson, A.R., Norman, P & Messenger, A.G. (2016) The importance of mindfulness in psychosocial distress and quality of life in dermatology patients. British Journal of Dermatology, 175. 930-936

Montgomery K, White C & Thompson AR (2017) A mixed methods survey of social anxiety, anxiety, depression and wig use in alopecia. BMJ Open, 7(4).

Montgomery, K., & Thompson, A.R. (2018). The potential role of Mindfulness in psychosocial support of dermatology patients. Clinics in Dermatology.

Montgomery K & Thompson AR (2018) Developing sensitivity to the psychological burden associated with skin conditions: a call for training. British Journal of Dermatology, 179(2), 237-238

Thompson AR & Montgomery K (2018) Stress and more stress: the importance in skin disease of worrying about what others think. British Journal of Dermatology, 178(4), 821-822

Montgomery, K. (2018)The use of qualitative methods to understand the experience of facial morphea. British Journal of Dermatology (In Press)

Montgomery, K (2019) The impact of hair loss. British Journal of Dermatology, 180(6)

Invited talks

Montgomery, K. (2015) Mindfulness in dermatology. World Congress of Dermatology. Vancouver.

Montgomery, K (2016) Psychosocial distress in people living with hair loss: Clinical presentation and management. Institute of Trichologists annual conference. London

Montgomery, K (2016). Psychosocial distress in patients living with alopecia. The role of psychological therapies, including mindfulness. British Hair and Nail Society conference. Sheffield