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At present, Hungary has no government programme or strategy to improve mental health and to develop mental health care. Several professional drafts have been prepared over the last decade, the most outstanding being the National Spiritual Health Strategy (Nemzeti Lelki Egészség Stratégia). The plans for the National Programme for 2014-2020 are currently available online, but concrete plans for implementation are still missing.
EMMI regulation on the operation of educational institutions and the name usage of school educational institutions
Regarding formal education, the mental health of youth is centrally regulated in the (6.§–7.§) of the EMMI regulation no. 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) [20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet a nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról] on the operation of educational institutions and the name usage of school educational institutions, which ordains the compulsorily integration of full-scale health development in the pedagogical programme that has numerous topics that are related to the improvement of children’s and youth’s mental health.
National Core Curriculum
In the new National Core Curriculum (Nemzeti Alaptanterv), accepted in 2020, the principle of the 'physical education and health development' is:
'the active human has proper attitudes to physical activities, lives an active life, accepts himself/herself, has the autonomy together with responsibility for the community, is open to new ideas and applies reliable solutions. The human with physical and mental health evaluates valuable the healthy and harmonious life. The pedagogues show the habits that establish healthy and harmonious life through personal examples in each stage of the education.'
The 9-10th grades
In the 9-10th grades, in biology education the student learns about stress and its harmful effects and try to avoid it; learns about the facts determining emotional and motivation acts; evaluates emotional and intelligential development connection; recognises the characteristics of mental health and understand its conditions and plan the needed elements of healthy, preventive life.
Physical education and sport, with the introduction of day-to-day physical education, helps to improve the mental health of students both in lower and upper grades and in secondary school.
'Restorative Handling of Offences in School Education Institutions'
The 'Restorative Handling of Offenses in School Education Institutions', which has been sent to all schools, provides a detailed description of restorative techniques that can be used in offence situations. One of the features of these techniques is to try to deal with conflict by revealing its nature, causes, and by providing opportunities for each participant to tell and share their feelings. By meditation and circle methods, solutions are given that are acceptable by everyone. On the other hand, the document presents good practices and initiatives aimed at promoting zero tolerance to violence and the whole school community's approach to change.
Mental Hygiene Basic Education for Teachers
The Mental Hygiene Basic Education for Teachers (Mentálhigiénés Alapképzés Pedagógusoknak – MAP), a 30-hour training indirectly serves the support of children’s students’ mental health by supporting the specialty responsible for school education, the aim of which is closely related to the improvement of youth mental health.
Mária Kopp Mental Health Strategy
The Mária Kopp Mental Health Strategy was elaborated, many elements of which deal with the improvement of youth mental health – the adoption of the strategy is in progress.
Students’ mental and lifestyle advisory system
The legislative regulation of higher education records the operation of students’ mental and lifestyle advisory system as a service task. The mental hygiene counselling serves the mental support of students’ in need of help or in crisis, and it provides professional help for solving students’ study and lifestyle problems by paying special attention to the integration of disabled and disadvantaged youth, and by helping them solve their problems.
Higher Education Counselling Association
The Higher Education Counselling Association (Felsőoktatási Tanácsadás Egyesület) was founded in October 1995, with the aim to unite the aspirations of organisations and people who consider the propagation and acceptance of the student-centred perspective and practice of counselling in higher education and generally in institutions providing human services.
The aims of the association
The aim of the association is to create opportunities for organised and nationally co-ordinated professional workshop and experience exchange, supervision and advanced training for the professionals (psychologists, higher education teachers, doctors, higher education counsellors, social workers and the so-called contemporary support students) who deal with the mental hygiene care of the youth – especially those who prepare for higher education, or study in higher education – that became particularly important due to the accelerated social-economic changes.
Therefore, the association aspires to implement the national-level co-ordination and further development of the application of information, consultation and therapeutic methods used in – in personal and group framework – higher education counselling, and to help the formation of a model of the modern institutional system to be created in higher education counselling, including mental hygiene consultation provided for higher education teachers.
Its aim is, furthermore, to help the training – taking place in higher educational institutions - of prospective higher education counselling professionals, including the preparation for drug prevention and the prevention of other addictions, for the advocacy of the acceptance of equality of disabled people and generally diversity/unconformity, and for career building and talent management. The association puts a particular emphasis on spreading the culture of higher education counselling in the closer and more distant regions outside the borders. It aims to maintain and expand the opportunities of international co-operation for its members.
Achieving the goals
In order to achieve the above goals, the association has placed a particular emphasis on the co-ordination and development of the application and supervision of information, consultation and therapeutic methods that can be used in higher education counselling at a national level. Professional co-operation and co-ordination of activities are carried out through various channels, among which are the annual professional days, the annual FETA Books series, the Higher Education Advisory Association, organising/co-ordinating scientific research and providing advice and consultation for students and institutions in order to develop further the methods of higher education counselling, and the participation of members of the association at national and abroad conferences.
Psychic first aid services
As a result of the increase in the number of suicides, more and more organisations have been formed in Hungary to prevent those who feel unable to recover from their difficulties in crisis situations. Such preventive organisations are psychic first aid telephone services whose voluntary tasks are suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and mental health prevention.
The threefold tasks of telephone services are:
- crisis intervention
- suicide prevention.
The prevention of mental health problems and the protection of mental health. Psycho-social problems are a burden in everyday life, the source of conflicts and living difficulties. To prevent these problems from becoming critical, assisting organisations to provide support in the form of counselling, information, management and accompaniment. Crisis intervention. If a person faces circumstances that endanger him/herself, and they cannot be avoided or resolved, he/she is in crisis. For solving a personality crisis, external help is needed. It can be a unique advantage that people who are unable to keep themselves to everyday communication rules in the crisis - while communicating 'transmitting strength' decreases - they can communicate their thoughts on voice and vocal channels. Suicide prevention, by reducing suicide threats, turning fatal 'solutions' into meaningful action, and transforming the crisis into a problem situation.
National Crisis Management and Information Telephone Service
The primary aim of the National Crisis Management and Information Telephone Service (Országos Kríziskezelő és Információs Telefonszolgálat) is to help victims of domestic violence, child abuse, prostitution and trafficking and, if necessary, to arrange for their placement. The phone service provides permanent access to every person who is in trouble and needs immediate assistance throughout the day, in the territory of the whole country and abroad, for anyone who needs it.
Digital Child Protection Strategy
The topic of suicide is increasingly on the internet among young people. Among other things, the prevention of this problem is also addressed by Hungary's Digital Child Protection Strategy (Digitális Gyermekvédelmi Stratégia). The top priority of the strategy is to support the creation of a conscious, and value-driven online environment, so that rules and measures for the protection of children are enforced more accurately than ever before. To this end, it is crucial to identify and eliminate risks to children during the use of the internet, thus preventing and minimising adverse effects. Another objective of the strategy is to ensure that the available protection mechanisms effectively fulfil their function. (For more information please see sub-chapter 6.8 Media literacy and safe use of new media.)