Dr. Avison is a sociologist with expertise in the sociology and epidemiology of mental health. His current research focuses on the ways in which socio-economic disadvantage and various types of social stressors affect the mental health of families and children. He has published widely in international journals in sociology and psychiatry on a number of issues in the sociology of mental health. He has held operating grants from Health Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research since 1989. He was named as a Senior Research Fellow of the Ontario Mental Health Foundation from 1994-2000. He was the 2004 recipient of the Society for the Study of Social Problems' James R. Greenley Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociology of Mental Health. He was also named recipient of the 2009 Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health from the American Sociological Association. In 2012, he was elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
Dr. Avison is past Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). He is also a past Chair of the Sociology of Mental Health Section of the ASA and of the Psychiatric Sociology Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. He is the Founding Editor of Society & Mental Health, the official journal of the ASA Section on the Sociology of Mental Health and is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. He has served on scientific review committees for the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Ontario Ministry of Health, and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and National Institutes of Health. He has also chaired numerous grant review committees for the National Health Research and Development Program of Health Canada, including the Child Mental Health, Child Health, National Population Health Survey, and the Rehabilitation Outcomes Committees. He is the past chair of the Children’s Health Committee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Public, Community, and Population Health Review Committee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He chairs the Selection Committee of the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program.
Dr. Avison is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. He has been a board member of Madame Vanier Children's Services, Family Service London, the London and Middlesex Co-ordinating Council for Children and Youth, and the London Inter-Community Health Centre. He is a former Chair of the Resource Steering Committee of Kids Count, a primary prevention and health promotion program in 11 neighborhoods in London, and was the first Chair of Investing in Children in London. He has served on the City of London Mayor's Anti-Poverty Task Force. He was also the Academic Advisor to the Western Mustangs Men's Intercollegiate Basketball Program from 1993 - 2007. In 2004, he received the Vanier Roots and Wings Award for contributions to family and children's mental health.