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Gavin’s main research interests are in the area of mental health, specifically: the effectiveness of mental health services; the social determinants of mental health; human rights and mental health/mental capacity legislation; and the associations between adverse childhood experiences and mental health.

He is the Praxis Chair of Social Care; the Lead for the What Works for Communities Strand within the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation; the Queen's coordinator for the Approved Social Work Programme; and one of the social work representatives on the Department of Health's Reference Group for the Mental Capacity Act Northern Ireland 2016.

His research has included work on the effectiveness of mental health services; the associations between trauma, inequalities and mental health; and the legal frameworks for intervention.

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Open to PhD applications in the field of 

  • Mental health
  • Health inequalities
  • Human rights
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  • Gavin’s research on the use of mental health law has helped inform the development of the Mental Capacity Act 
    (Northern Ireland) 2016 and he is involved in further research to consider how this should be implemented in practice.
  • His research on the associations between adversity, inequalities and mental health, and on the effectiveness of
    interventions, has also informed the development of mental health policy and practice.


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

School Of Social Sciences, Education And Social Work

Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation

Praxis Care

Disability Research Network


Research students

PhD title: Resiliency in non-elite athletes

Name: Kate Hills
Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland

PhD title: From awaking from monastic slumber to unprecedented opportunity for Irish mental health services to address housing needs

Name: John Cowman
Years of Study: 
Country: Republic of Ireland


PhD title: Why would nature therapy or regular nature immersion be effective for managing mental illness?

Name: Louise Taylor
Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland

Alumni: where are they now?

Audrey Roulston

PhD title: Exploring the experiences of people with advanced lung cancer and their palliative care professionals

Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland
Current position: Lecturer in Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast

Colm Walsh

PhD title: Replicating an Evidence-Based Model in Northern Ireland: An Exploration of the Influence of Staff Characteristics on Family Outcomes within Multi-Systemic Therapy

Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland
Current position: Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast

Suzanne Mooney

PhD title: Hospital care to promote the wellbeing of teenagers and young adults with cancer: Young person, parent and professional perspectives

Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland
Current position: Lecturer in Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast

Research at Queen's

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