• Shore Road, Jordanstown Campus

    BT37 0QB Newtownabbey

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile


Dr. Gavin Breslin is the Interim Research Director for the Psychology Research Institute at Ulster University. He is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in the School of Psychology, and a member of the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Gavin is a British Psychological Society (BPS) Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist, a Registered Practitioner of the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC), and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). He completed his BSc and PhD in Psychology at Queens University Belfast, the Aspiring Academic Leadership and Management Programme at Ulster, and studied International Business in the USA.

Gavin has published extensively both nationally and internationally in the area of mental health and well-being, including three books entitled, Sport and Exercise Psychology: Practitioner Case Studies (2016, Wiley-Blackwell); Mental Health Interventions in Sport: Research Theory and Practice (2019, Routledge) and Understanding Sport Psychology (2021, SAGE). He has led on systematic reviews, cross sectional, prospective, and case studies on mental health, and has designed RCT interventions using psychological behaviour change theory to enhance health and well-being for children and adults in schools, sports clubs, prisons, secure hospitals and workplace settings.

Gavin is the lead advisor for research underpinning Sport Northern Ireland and the Public Health Agencies ‘Wellbeing in Sport Action Plan 2019-2025’ which he authored. His research underpinned the development of the Action Plan that has since impacted governing bodies of sport, and clubs across Northern Ireland. In 2021 he led an Impact Case Study on wellbeing in sport for REF. In 2018/19 he led a panel of experts on the development of an international consensus statement on mental health interventions in sport, with researchers, policy makers and practitioners from 10 countries. His work has been cited in international publications and by the BPS, and Royal College of Psychiatry as a result. He has supervised numerous PhD students to completion and managed post-doctoral fellows and research assistants during his time at Ulster through his funded research grants. He has also led the largest physical activity and well-being research intervention for over 7000 children from social disadvantage across Ireland (Sport For Life Programme, 2009-2018). His research on mental health and sport in secure forensic settings has been cited in reports by the Ministry of Justice, illustrating the impact that his research has had in improving mental health in psychologically challenging environments.

Gavin has had several leadership positions, and is a member of numerous committees internal and external to Ulster University. He was former Head of The School of Sport, Learning and Teaching Coordinator for the School of Sport, MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology Course Director, Year Group lead, and has led revalidation and accreditation of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes internally and with the British Psychological Society. He currently mentors research staff at Ulster. He is the Chief Assessor in the UK for the Stage 2 Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology with the British Psychological Society. He currently chairs the BPS DSEP COVID-19 Working Group to produce evidence based guidance for protecting mental health and wellbeing of those involved in competitive sport, and is a member of the COVID-19 Behavioural Science Research Group Northern Ireland led by the Public Health Agency.

Along with teaching and research responsibilities, he has worked with national and international athletes and teams in sport psychology, he has advised various sport associations on how to develop actions to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their organisations.

He was funded by UEFA to review dual career and player wellbeing across Europe, the HSE Public Health Agency to evaluate mental health interventions, Sport NI to evaluate mental health interventions, and more recently NIHR to conduct research on effectiveness of public health interventions as part of the UK wide PHIRST initiative. He leads the Whole Systems Approach to Diet and Healthy Weight in East Scotland as part of the project in partnership with University of Hertfordshire.

His passions are his family, music, playing guitar, running marathons and trying to understand the psychology of how humans develop, learn, and reach their optimal potential.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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