One in three children needs treatment for a mental problem

Monika Almássy Tóth worked for many years as a teacher at the Heim Pál Children’s Hospital. In the course of her work, she has experienced first-hand how much it means for children who are chronically ill and undergoing treatment to be able to learn school curriculum despite their health problems. This is not easy for them, as the Hungarian education and health care system is not fully prepared to teach these children, which is why the HospitalSchool was established eight years ago. The foundation’s volunteer team of undergraduates and high schoolers helps hundreds of children catch up every year.

To understand exactly who needs extra help, two concepts need to be clarified first: there are students with a long-term illness whose life, although difficult for someone with a health problem such as asthma, epilepsy, or diabetes, is still in school. does not inhibit. However, there are children undergoing long-term treatment, such as oncology, transplant patients or young people with a serious accident.

whose recovery can take months or years.

“Adolescents undergoing psychiatric treatment also belong to the latter group, and unfortunately there have been a spectacular increase in them in the recent period. When we started work eight years ago, one in ten children came into our sight because of a mental problem. Today, we can say that every third young person comes to us because of this type of problem, and we suspect that the coronavirus epidemic also played a major role in the surge, ”said Monika Tóthné Almássy to the Index.

There are thousands of children

Although there are no exact figures, the expert recalled that, according to a 2019 publication, about 5 percent of the more than 1 million compulsory students are struggling with some form of illness that limits their daily lives. That’s about 50,000 students, but according to the head of HospitalSchool, this can only be considered a conservative estimate, because until now it has not been determined who is included in the group of children undergoing long-term treatment at all.

However, in May this year, the Ministry of Human Resources published a report on their education. professional directivein the development of which KórházSuli also participated.

The directive states that a child who is unable to go to school for 36 days a school year due to illness is in long-term treatment. So in the near future it will be revealed exactly how many such students there are in Hungary, where you can build

– said the hospital teacher, then recalled that the working group implementing the protocol was set up because an ombudsman inquiry in 2019 found that the right of sick children to education in Hungary was violated in several respects.

Although the Public Education Act has previously stated that children in hospitals have the right to study and that schools must provide 10 hours a week for students with individual medical credentials, in which case education is often limited to the classroom. limited to holding examinations.

There was not really an example of real implementation without a protocol and practical guide, educators and health professionals had neither the energy nor the methodology nor the knowledge on how to deal with these students, and in most cases there was no link between education and between healthcare institutions. We are now expecting a change in this, and we consider the creation of the directive to be of historic significance

Said Monika Tóthné Almássy, who also talked about the fact that there will be challenges, of course. He pointed out that there are still very few teachers working in the hospital: most of them work in children’s hospitals in Budapest, and in the countryside their work is concentrated exclusively in oncology centers.

“About 350-400 volunteers at HospitalSuli help with the stage of the illness when the child is already recovering at home. In addition to that, the mother school would need that certain 10 hours. Thus, in this triangle, perhaps a system can be called what can be called quality education, ”said the head of the foundation with confidence. He added that in the future, the lives of sick students will also be helped by a so-called educational rehabilitation diary, in which the child can be tracked when they are in hospital, at home or at school, so that young people can be seen from the moment of diagnosis to recovery. in educational institutions.

(Cover image: Martin BUREAU / AFP)

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