The link between good cognition and immunity

Man lying on lawn

MyCognition is one of the IEP’s four social innovators working on new, on-the-ground mental health solutions. They have just published a paper calling for action on mental health, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, they explain their research on the link between stress, cognition and immunity; and set out how MyCognition can be used to support people during the current crisis.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we have summarised five key learnings from their paper:


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on mental health, with significant social and economic implications, through social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn.


  • Vulnerable groups are most at risk from poor mental health: children, young people and families; older adults, especially those with underlying health issues including existing mental illnesses; front-line healthcare workers; those with learning difficulties.


  • Cognition is shown to play a role regulating the body’s immune response. Inflammation caused by pro-inflammatory cytokines (immune cells) is shown to have a negative relationship with cognition. Good cognition regulates cortisol and cytokines, enhancing mental health and immunity.


  • Stress within society is under increased pressure due to COVID-19, with some succumbing more noticeably than others. Compared to women, a greater proportion of men overreact to cortisol, intensifying the pressure on their stress threshold. This is perhaps the reason why more men are dying as a result of Covid-19.


  • If infected, those with good overall cognition are more likely to be asymptomatic, whereas prolonged or extreme stress compromises cognition and its regulation of cytokines via cortisol, and the immune system deteriorates. People with autoimmune illnesses, subjected to extreme stress, or forced into stressful conditions, are at greater risk of an infection and mental illness. 


MyCognition is positioned to meet the call to action for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic as it is a digital platform that can be accessed by the socially isolated while physical distancing measures are in place. The Platform can be delivered as a first line of stepped, interventional care, delivering the most effective, least resource-heavy treatment to patients in need. 

To find out more about their platform and offering during COVID-19, visit the MyCognition website here