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 ATTUNE (Understanding Pathways to Stimulant Use: A mixed-methods examination of the individual, social and cultural factors shaping illicit stimulant use across Europe). I have also been working with colleagues on two linked systematic reviews on, the longitudinal associations between mood and substance use disorders in adolescence and early adulthood; and the effectiveness of psychological interventions to address co-occurring mood disorders and substance use disorders in adolescence and early adulthood. I am also co-author on 'A Qualitative Systematic Review Exploring Roles, Risks and Social Patterns of Drinking in Later Life'. 

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, between June and December 2015, 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 here 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 included work in generic and targeted contexts; support work with autistic young people; and delivery of universal mental health interventions.

I am currently studying part-time for an MSc in Social Science and Health Research, where the title of my dissertation is 'Exploring the acceptability of school-based mental health interventions: young people's perspectives'.

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

2016 - 2018: Social Science and Health Research MSc, Newcastle University
2009 - 2014: 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

  • Child and adolescent mental health
  • Anxiety, depression, self-harm
  • Primary and secondary preventative interventions


  • 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 of Local Governance. £44,000.
  • 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.