Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Liam Spencer

Research Assistant


I joined IHS in December 2014, and I am part of the SPARKS team (Supporting Prevention and care for Alcohol and other RisK behaviourS), where the current focus of my work is the NIHR SPHR Public Mental Health programme, and ATTUNE (Understanding Pathways to Stimulant Use: A mixed-methods examination of the individual, social and cultural factors shaping illicit stimulant use across Europe). I am also co-applicant on the project 'Using Behavioural Insights to Improve the Uptake of Support for Services for Drug and Alcohol Misuse in Hartlepool', and have recently been working as an embedded researcher in the Hartlepool Action Recovery Team. I am currently undertaking my PhD, which is a qualitative exploration of the relationship between mental health and substance use through the life-course.

In 2018 I co-authored the Tyne and Wear Citizens 'Living Well: Mental Wellbeing and Public Life in the North East' report, following an AskFuse enquiry. Previously, I worked on PROMOTE: NE (Preventing Risks Of Mental illness Onset and Treating Early in the North East), which I was co-applicant for (funded by the Institute for Local Governance and Public Health England), to assess the need and provision of interventions to address mental health difficulties in young people across the North East. Prior to that, I worked on an independent evaluation of the NHS 111 Learning & Development Programme Phase 2; which was established to support and promote evidence-based service development for the NHS 111 service. The first project I had involvement with was the NIHR programme SIPS Junior; comparing the effectiveness of a face-to-face brief intervention with an electronic brief intervention (smartphone app) designed to prevent alcohol-related harm in young people aged 14-17 years presenting at A&E.

Prior to working in research, I spent a number of years working in youth and community work practice, for local authority, charity and private organisations. This work was in both generic and targeted contexts, and included work with autistic young people, and the delivery of universal mental health interventions.

2014 - Present: Research Assistant, Newcastle University
2013 - 2015: Youth Engagement Worker, YoungMinds
2013 - 2015: Children and Young People Worker, Barnardo's (DAISS)
2011 - 2013; 2014 - 2015: Transition Worker, Patchwork People
2010 - 2011: Young Associate, Cernis Limited
2008 - 2013: Youth Support Worker/Youth Crime Action Plan Worker, Darlington Borough Council

Social Science and Health Research MSc, Newcastle University
Psychology BSc (Hons), Newcastle University

British Psychological Society
FUSE (The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health)
IEPA Early Intervention in Mental Health


Research Interests

  • Public mental health
  • Young people's mental health
  • Substance misuse
  • Early intervention and prevention


  • Spencer L, Kaner E. (2018). Living Well - Mental Wellbeing and Public Life in the North East. Tyne and Wear Citizens. (Consultancy). £2,000.
  • Lynch E, Alderson H, McGovern R, Ling J, Spencer L, Scott S, Kaner E. (2018). Using behaviour insight to improve uptake of support for services for drug and alcohol misuse in Hartlepool and to reduce prevalence in children and young people. Hartlepool Borough Council/Local Government Association. £50,000.
  • Lingam R, McGovern R, Shucksmith J, McArdle P, Barkla X, Robalino S, Geijer-Simpson E, Spencer L, Reynolds A, Kaner E. (2015). Mental Health Issues in Children and Young People. Institute for Local Governance. £44,000.