A pilot training programme Cognitive Fitness in the mental health service has been completed. A total of 40 people with long-term mental health conditions participated in the programme, which according to research by the Trimbos Institute, was a success.
Besides mental health problems, people in long term care often battle with difficulties in the area of cognitive functioning (making plans, attention span, memory) and lifestyle (little physical activity and overweight). Cognitive Fitness training tries to address these issues. The programme combines physical activity with exercises designed to improve memory, concentration and coordination. The Trimbos Institute has studied the effects and experiences of the training.
40 people from three mental health organisations participated in the pilot programme. They were resoundingly positive in their assessment of the training, awarding it an average score of 8+. Not everyone completed the programme, but a lot of interest was expressed in attending a follow-up course. 40 people from three organisations participated in the pilot study.
Memory and cognitive flexibility showed an improvement after the training. Moreover, blood pressure had dropped and the participants were more physically active. There was also a slight improvement in mental health and in the speed of processing information, although not significantly so.
The participants reported an improvement in their well-being. They were more at ease with themselves, felt fitter and had more energy. They also were less likely to procrastinate, as they felt less dread of undertaking activities. The experiences reported were so positive, that offering the course on a larger scale course as well as follow-up research were considered desirable.
More information: Manja van Wezep