Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity that provides fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is also the vice-chair and education lead for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, formed of over 100 UK charities working together to set the agenda for young people’s mental health in the UK and beyond.
The child is always at the centre of Pooky’s work where her first question is always ‘how will this benefit children and young people?’ Question two, which follows fast, is – ‘how can this be made usable, practical and relevant?’
Pooky is a passionate ambassador for mental health who loves to research, write, speak, teach and share all manner of ideas about mental health, wellbeing and PSHE. Her enthusiasm is backed up both by a PhD in child and adolescent mental health and her own lived experience of anorexia, self-harm, anxiety and depression.
Family is Pooky’s priority in her free time which is largely spent with husband Tom and her two young daughters from whom she learns more than she ever imagined possible.
- Charlie Waller Memorial Trust – Director: Children, Young People and Schools Programme
- Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition – Vice Chair
- SecEd Magazine – Resident mental health expert and regular columnist
- Jessica Kingsley Publishers – Series Editor – children’s mental health story books
- Evidence Based Practice Unit (UCL and Anna Freud Centre) – Associate Fellow
- Department for Education – Advisory Group to Develop Peer Support
- Beat, the eating disorders charity – Trustee
- National Institute of Health Research – Clinical Research Group – Eating Disorders – Expert Member (Education)
- Be Real Campaign for Body Confidence – Expert Advisory Group – Chair & Expert Member (Education)
- Creative Education – Educational consultant, blog editor.
- Huffington Post, The Mighty, LifeHack – Author
- Mum – to two of the world’s most cheeky six-year-old girls, Lyra and Ellie.
Can I tell you about self-harm
The book which is has a reading age of 7+ and is aimed at young people struggling with self-harm and their friends, family and professionals working with them, aims to aid understanding of what self-harm is, why people do it, and how young people who self-harm can be supported to find more healthy coping mechanisms.
The book has been illustrated by Elise Evans who has first hand experience and worked with me to develop inclusive images to try and pervade the myth that self-harm is only something that affects white girls. I hope that the book will be a useful resource and also a good springboard for Elise’s illustration career.
The Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal
Packed full of creative activities and coping strategies, this journal and colouring book is the perfect companion when faced with difficult thoughts and feelings. Whether you are stressed out at home or school, feeling anxious or simply in need of some relaxation, this workbook provides a place for you to express your emotions. Put your own personal stamp on colouring, journaling and drawing activities and explore healthy ways of coping with difficult feelings such as anger and anxiety through inspirational quotes, poems and practical advice.
With a range of activities that introduce mindfulness and encourage relaxation, this workbook will help young people aged 8-14 to develop the tools needed to prepare for and respond to future difficult situations. It is also an invaluable resource for parents and carers, teachers, counsellors and psychologists to use with young people in their care. [order a copy]
Poetry can be a great way to get people talking about difficult issues around mental health. This book is a complete guide to using poetry for this purpose. It includes a collection of over 100 poems written by the author with accompanying activities, as well as a 50 prompts to encourage clients to write their own poems. Order a copy.
Self-Harm and Eating Disorders in Schools: A Guide to Whole School Support and Practical Strategies
Self-harm and eating disorders are present in almost every school and they frequently co-occur. It is vital that school staff can spot early warning signs, understand triggers and know how to effectively support the students in their care. This is a very practical guide that helps school staff to gain a better understanding of self-harm and eating disorders, dispelling the myths and misconceptions that surround these behaviours, and explaining how to respond to disclosures, make referrals, and work alongside parents to assist in the road to recovery. The book provides a range of guidance from whole-school policies and procedures to day-to-day strategies to implement in lessons, at mealtimes and in one-on-one sessions. Order a copy. Read a preview and reviews.
The Eating Disorders Pocketbook
This Pocketbook is suitable for anyone working in a school setting and will be of interest to parents, too. It contains ideas, information and practical advice for supporting pupils with eating disorders. It explains what an eating disorder is, focusing particularly on anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. After identifying risk factors and warning signs, it looks at encouraging pupils to share their concerns and at how to respond when a student confides.
Government funded publications for which I was lead researcher and author
Other Selected Publications
Knightsmith, P (2015) “But Why? Understanding why young people turn to self-harm – and using this understanding to provide sustainable support” British Association of Counselling Professionals CYP Journal
Knightsmith, P (2015) Mental Health: Less Talk, More Action (‘View from the top’ opinion piece) Journal of Family Healthcare (Also reprinted in “Mental Health Today”)
Knightsmith, P., Sharpe, H., Breen, O., Treasure, J., Schmidt, U., (2013) “My teacher saved my life” versus “Teachers don’t have a clue”: An online survey of pupils’ experiences of eating disorders” Journal of child and adolescent mental health
Knightsmith, P., (2014) “Common eating issues in adoptive children – providing care and support” in Radwan, K (Ed) Prepare for Adoption Now. Adoption UK Publications
Knightsmith, P., Treasure, J., Schmidt, U (2013) “We don’t know how to help” An online survey of school staff experiences of eating disorders” Journal of child and adolescent mental health
Knightsmith, P., Treasure, J., Schmidt, U (2013) “Spotting and supporting eating disorders in school. Recommendations from school staff” Health Education Research Journal, 28(6), 1004-1013
Knightsmith, P. (September, 2012) Eating Disorders Pocketbook. Hampshire: Teachers’ Pocketbooks
Knightsmith, P (January, 2013) “Overcoming eating disorders: identifying pupils at risk and spotting the signs” Special Children Magazine (pp 8-9). Optimus Education
Knightsmith, P (March, 2013) “Guidelines for school staff” In Alexander,J & Treasure, J (Eds) Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Families, Friends and Sufferers (pp 259-266) Routledge
Knightsmith, P (March, 2013) “Overcoming eating disorders: supporting pupils on the road to recovery” Special Children Magazine (pp 12-14). Optimus Education
Knightsmith, P., (June, 2013) “Out of the darkness” guidance for discussing mental health issues in the classroom. (page 45) Times Educational Supplement
Knightsmith, P., (August, 2013) “What is my child saying” – guidance to understanding and responding to unusual behaviour related to food. (page 11) Adoption Today Magazine
Knightsmith, P., (October, 2013) “Talking to pupils when they make mental health disclosures” Teacher resource developed for PSHE Association members in the UK
Pictures for Programmes etc
If you need a picture of me for a conference programme or article etc, you are welcome to use the pictures below. These were taken by Sam Taylor in April 2015. If you need them in higher res please email me – email@example.com