7.8 Current debates and reforms
1. Drugs Decriminalization
The Ministry of Health submitted a new Act on Narcotic Substances, Psychotropic Substances and Preparations (Act No. 139/1998 Coll.) To the inter-ministerial comment procedure, within which it proposes to allow the use of preparations containing cannabidiol.
The Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic has set up an expert group to prepare the document on the drug quantity for personal use as a basis for later legislative measures (holding small amount for personal use as a penal offense not a criminal act).
2. Increase of Physical Education hours in schools
There is a longstanding debate on strengthening the Physical Education hours from two to three hours per week.
3. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health
Poor mental health of young people is also associated with an increased risk of injuries and substance abuse, which affects quality and length of life. Particularly vulnerable groups of young people at risk of mental health include young people with disabilities, chronic diseases, as well as young people who are stigmatized and marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic origin. Furthermore, young people exposed to violence, living in poverty or in undesirable and unstable living conditions.
The psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic also affect young people. Social isolation, changes in the provision of support services, changes at school and at work significantly affect their lives. UNESCO states that up to 73% of young people felt the need to seek help with associated with physical and mental health during the pandemic; however, 40% did not request assistance.
These are statistics on contacts in 2020 presented by the ipčko.sk, Internet Counseling for Young People:
- Main topic: Feeling lonely and scared - 11 171 contacts;
- Main topic: Suicidal thoughts - 8 060 contacts;
- Main topic: COVID-19 - 6 903 contacts;
- Main topic: Suicide attempt - 3 422 contacts.
It is therefore essential that the policy makers address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of young people and to ensure that effective aid is available.