Liam Spencer

Liam Spencer

Mental Health Research Fellow

Liam Spencer is a Mental Health Research Fellow linked to our Inequalities and Marginalised Communities theme.


Prior to commencing his ARC role, Liam worked as a Research Assistant at Newcastle University between 2014 and 2022. Before this, Liam spent seven years working in youth and community work practice, for local authority, charity, and private organisations. This work was in both generic and targeted contexts, including work with autistic young people, and the delivery of universal mental health interventions. Recently Liam has been involved with several projects as part of the NIHR SPHR Public Mental Health programme; an NIHR SPHR PHPES project evaluating the Best Start in Life Alliance in South Tyneside; and an ARC-funded evaluation of the implementation of whole-school approaches to mental health in Trailblazer schools.

Previously, Liam worked on: ATTUNE (Understanding Pathways to Stimulant Use), which was a mixed-methods examination of the individual, social and cultural factors shaping illicit stimulant use; a Behavioural Insights study that aimed to improve the uptake of drug and alcohol misuse support in Hartlepool; and the NIHR Programme Grant ‘SIPS Junior’ study, which compared the effectiveness of a face-to-face brief intervention with an electronic brief intervention, designed to prevent alcohol-related harm in young people aged 14-17 years presenting at A&E. Liam has also worked with Tyne and Wear Citizens to co-author the ‘Living Well: Mental Wellbeing and Public Life in the North East’ report following an AskFuse enquiry; and on the PROMOTE: NE (Preventing Risks Of Mental illness Onset and Treating Early in the North East) study, which assessed the need and provision of interventions to address mental health difficulties in young people across the North East.

Areas of interest

Liam is interested in, and can help you with:

  • Children and young people’s mental health
  • Public mental health
  • Early and preventative interventions
  • Substance use
  • Qualitative research methods

Planned work as an ARC Mental Health Research Fellow

As an ARC Mental Health Research Fellow, Liam will continue to focus on building capacity for children and young people’s mental health research in the region, through collaboration with practice partners, and academic colleagues. This will include the dissemination of findings from previous research, which will contribute to his PhD by published works. Striving to establish himself as a trailblazer in this field of research, Liam plans to lead school-based work in the region, with a focus on developing inclusive school environments for marginalised youth.

Get in touch

Twitter: @LiamPSpencer

Email: [email protected]


Recent publications

  • Liebregts N, McGovern W, Spencer L, O’Donnell A. No Thanks! A Mixed-Methods Exploration of the Social Processes Shaping Persistent Non-Initiation of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants. Contemporary Drug Problems, 2022.
  • Spencer L, Flynn D, Johnson A, Maniatopoulos G, Newham J, Perkins N, Wood M, Woodley H, Henderson E. The implementation of whole-school approaches to transform mental health in UK schools: A realist evaluation protocol. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2022.
  • Troy D, Anderson J, Jessiman P, Albers P, Williams J, Sheard S, Geijer-Simpson E, Spencer L, Kaner E, Limmer M, Viner R, Kidger J. What is the impact of structural and cultural factors and interventions within educational settings on promoting positive mental health and preventing poor mental health: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 2022.
  • Spencer L, Addison M, Alderson H, McGovern W, McGovern R, Kaner E, O’Donnell A. ‘The Drugs Did For Me What I Couldn’t Do For Myself’: A Qualitative Exploration of the Relationship Between Mental Health and Amphetamine-Type Stimulant (ATS) Use. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 2021.
  • Alderson H, Spencer L, Scott S, Kaner E, Reeves A, Robson S, Ling J. Using behavioural insights to improve the uptake of services for drug and alcohol misuse. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021.
  • Spencer L, McGovern R, Kaner E. A qualitative exploration of 14 to 17-year old adolescents’ view of early and preventative mental health support in schools. Journal of Public Health, 2020.