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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 - A 5-Step Method to Support Cognitive Function.

The Greater Manchester Housing First pilot and the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust have worked together to support some of the most vulnerable people in the 10 boroughs and our Dual Diagnosis Practitioners use their unique expertise to provide support to those on the pilot.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, this blog is from a Dual Diagnosis Practitioner looks at the topic of cognitive function as this relates to the homeless population and ourselves.

Your brain processes information and manages your emotions, cognitive function, depression, anxiety, attention—everything! Your brain is who you are—your thoughts and your relationship with yourself.

Concentration, memory, focus, creativity, and productivity—all suffer as our brains struggle to keep up with the demands we place on them. There are also related issues, such as the rise in dementia and strokes, as well as depression and anxiety.

Some stats:

  • 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK: source

  • 2 100,000 strokes each year in the UK: source

  • 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England: source

Now for the good news.

You can improve your brain function and protect yourself against most degenerative, vascular, and inflammatory diseases of the brain. Better yet, you can profoundly improve your brain function starting right now.

A 5-step approach for better brain health.

This five-pronged approach to improving cognitive health, as well as overall health, is called the NEURO Plan:

  1. Nutrition. The good news here is that if every meal can damage, then every meal can heal. That's the power of food.

  2. Exercise. Exercise is good for cardiovascular health, mental health and brain health. Regular exercise reduces inflammation and oxidative processes so that if you eat an unhealthy meal, exercise will help you create an environment that reduces the damage caused by that meal.

  3. Unwind. Identifying your stressors and practice methods of relieving bad stress such as meditation, mindful breathing, listening to music, journaling, and engaging in a variety of practices that will help you find a sense of calm.

  4. Restore. Getting a good night’s sleep, including going to bed at the right time, waking up at the right time, and avoiding watching TV and screen time before bed.

  5. Optimise. Spending quality time with friends and family, learning new things, and diving into brain-stretching activities. What is true for your body's pathways is true for every aspect of life.

If you follow even just one aspect of the NEURO Plan, your risk of Alzheimer's drops significantly. But if you work with them altogether, your risk of developing dementia, stroke, and many other diseases of the brain drops by as much as 80 to 90%.

This approach is used by the Dual Diagnosis Practitioners where appropriate for those on the GMHF pilot and is helping make the pilot the success that it is.

Together, we are making a difference

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