Department of Psychology

Professor Richard Velleman

Professor of Mental Health Research

Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 3843


Richard Velleman is Emeritus Professor of Mental Health Research. He is a leading authority on substance misuse, with a special interest in the impact of this misuse on other family members, including children. He is a founding member of AFINet, the Addiction and the Family International Network which works to promote, through research, practice and policy, the well-being of family members, friends and colleagues who are affected by and concerned about another person's addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling, was for 6years (2008-2013) a member of the 15-person Scientific Committee of the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction), and currently works for much of his time in India [with the Sangath Community Health NGO, Goa India] developing and researching the use of community lay health workers to deliver psychological interventions to people with a range of disorders including severe depression, serious alcohol problems, community detoxification, and family interventions.  

Richard is both a clinical and an academic psychologist. He took his first degree (Experimental Psychology) at Sussex in the early 1970s, trained in clinical psychology at the University of Exeter, and later obtained his PhD at Exeter, before moving to Bath in 1984. He has always held dual posts, in Universities and in the NHS.

His research and practice interests cover a wide spectrum within mental health, with a particular interest in the impact of substance misuse and mental health issues on family members, especially children, as well as broader research and practice interests in counselling, substance misuse, and children & families. He has developed theory and practice related to resilience in children who have lived within problem families; and related to adults who are affected as family members, dealing with the addiction problems of a close relative. He has been awarded grants of more than £6,000,000 over his research career to date, and published over 200 items including fifteen books, and more than 160 scientific journal papers and book chapters.

Richard has worked in the addictions and mental health fields for almost 40 years. In the early 1980s he helped to establish Alcohol Concern, the national alcohol agency in England & Wales; and spearheaded the creation of the hugely popular Volunteer Alcohol Counsellors Training Scheme. In the mid-1980s he set up the non-statutory BADAS (Bath Area Drugs Advisory Service), the first drugs services in the Bath area. In 1994 he became the founding Head first of the Specialist Drug and Alcohol Services in the Bath Mental Health Care NHS Trust, and then also of the Somerset Drug Service. From 1999 to 2004 he was the Director of Strategic Development for the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, responsible for most of the Trust’s specialist services (such as Drug & Alcohol, Forensic, Prison Mental Health, the Families and Psychosis Service (an NHS Beacon Site), Research and Development). He left the Trust Board in 2004 to concentrate once more on his research, writing and clinical work. Over the past 40 years he has worked with many international and national bodies (including the EU, the Governments of Italy, Mexico, Australia and Goa, Grand Challenges Canada, the EMCDDA, and (in the UK) the Home Office, Department of Health, Scottish Executive, the National Treatment Agency, a number of NHSE Regions, and many Research Councils and National Charities, including the Mental Health Foundation, the Alcohol Education & Research Council and Alcohol Research-UK, and has served as an Expert Witness in many child protection cases relating to parental substance misuse or parental mental health problems.

Research interests

  • The impact of substance misuse and mental health issues on affected family members, both children and adults
  • The use of trained and supervised lay counsellors to provide psychological therapies in low and middle income countries
  • Counselling, substance misuse, children & families, and mental health

Current Research Projects


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