8pont engSOUL VACCINE – Mental Action Plan for Post-Covid Phenomena

The protracted pandemic has posed a serious mental health challenge to almost all of humanity, including us Europeans.

The mental and psychological effects of the covid virus affect not only the members of the infected population, but also those who, although they have been spared the virus, have suffered significant mental impacts due to restrictions, reduced social contacts, negative economic consequences and forced changes in lifestyle. In other words, almost all people.

According to a Boston analysis (synthesising related research from several countries) published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Medical, one in three people who have been infected with the virus suffer from some form of post-covid illness: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other neurological complications.

Research is ongoing (e.g., at the Department of Developmental Psychology at ELTE-Faculty of Education and Psychology and through an initiative of UNICEF Hungary) on the extent of mental distress among those who have not contracted the virus but have been psychologically damaged by restrictions, quarantine, disruption of social relationships, livelihood insecurity or extreme stress.

We can already safely say that a significant proportion of society has been mentally affected and is still suffering from the coronavirus epidemic and its aftermath. In February this year, the European Commission, in collaboration with five children’s rights organizations, published a survey showing that one in five children are distressed and unhappy because of the virus and one in ten have been found to have specific symptoms of mental health problems (e.g. depression). UNICEF’s Hungarian Young Ambassadors, as well as SOS Children’s Villages’ own research, confirmed that anxiety and feelings of emptiness among young people had increased significantly, with nearly two-thirds reporting unusual fatigue and more than half also reporting regular sleep disturbances in relation to the covid-quarantine period.

Professionals have said that even before the coronavirus epidemic, nearly a quarter of young Hungarians were already experiencing mental health problems: but their care and support is severely limited by a lack of professionals. According to publicly available data, there is a shortage not only of child psychiatrists, but also of psychologists, physiotherapists and other mental health professionals.

In fact, even before the pandemic, depression was the second most common cause of long-term disability, ahead only of cardiovascular diseases – in other words, mental health is inescapably important because of its impact on society and, by extension, the economy.

We know from statements by experts and from figures previously published by the state that Educational Specialist Services and school psychologists are radically overburdened. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a parent and their child to have to wait six months before they can be admitted to individual psychological care or even an anxiety-relief group. Most Hungarian kindergartens and schools have a psychologist, but even so, there are many unfilled positions in the country, so that in many cases there is one school psychologist for every 450 children, and students often remain without care.

The right to physical and mental health is a fundamental human right. Therefore, there should not be a single kindergarten, school or other educational institution in the country where a full-time mental health professional is not available.

The EU4Health programme, launched by the European Union with a budget of €5.1 billion, has as one of its objectives to improve mental health. A strategy for the effective use of the EU4Health programme should be developed in cooperation with civil society and professional organizations. Strengthening mental health is also a priority in the concept of the European Health Union, which I have partly initiated and developed, and therefore enhanced coordination at EU level is needed to achieve these common objectives as effectively as possible.

It is essential to strengthen the infrastructural conditions for mental health and psychological support networks. The Széchenyi2020 programme includes a HUF 6 billion investment in the development of the child and youth psychiatric, addiction and mental healthcare system, but most of the investments have not happened to date, and the deadlines have been extended by two years.

As a member of the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee and one of the drafters of the European Health Union concept, I propose an 8-point action plan for the attention of the government and professional organizations:


An immediate and comprehensive assessment should be made of the current status, operation and availability of psychological and mental health services in Hungary, of the specialized psychiatric clinics available on a health insurance basis, as well as the network of school psychologists. Taking into account the outcome of this, an extraordinary “National Mental Action Plan” should be made to assess and address the mental health impacts of the epidemic, involving civil and professional organizations, support services, student and adult advocacy groups. (Same process in every memberstate is recommended)


All possible EU programmes, instruments and European budgetary resources should be used to promote health programmes, including prevention campaigns and professional mental health initiatives. To this end, I call for a strategic consultation of both the European and the Hungarian professional and civil society organizations concerned.


An EU wide comprehensive campaign is needed to promote mental health protection, including the use of mental health support provided by professionals. People need to be made aware that it is “NOT UNCOOL to consult a psychologist or a mental health professional; in fact, continued maintenance of our mental health is essential to preserving our physical health.


We need to reduce the overall workload of professionals, but at the same time increase the amount of time spent on children. In the current law (CXXIX of 2013 – on the regulation of education), school psychologists are required to work 22 hours a week, which should be increased to 30 hours a week, or 6 hours a day, in stages, to allow more time for children. However, the latter can only be achieved and expected if the state creates the necessary infrastructure, human resources and funding as soon as possible.


One of the first steps to alleviate the shortage of professionals is to amend the relevant legislation to broaden the range of professionals available and to allow, for example, the inclusion of qualified mental health professionals in the school psychology network.


To overcome the shortage of professionals, training needs to be strengthened by reviewing the current role of higher education in psychology and mental health. Access to undergraduate psychology courses should be made easier for professionals who already hold a higher degree in a related field (e.g. mental health, pre-school teacher) by ensuring that, if they apply, their relevant professional degree is sufficient credit for automatic admission to the undergraduate course.


It is of the utmost importance that mental health support for teachers and other professionals working with children should be available on an ongoing basis in the future. Specific, targeted training should be provided now, already before the new school-year starts in September, for teachers in nursery schools and schools on how to deal with the phenomena associated with covid and its mental effects: what to do, how to deal with it themselves and when to refer to a specialist.

  1. DEDICATED YEAR – 2022

As part of the comprehensive campaign, I call for EU Member States to launch a “European Year of Mental Health” in 2022, building on the experience of the covid period, with targeted programmes to strengthen mental health protection and develop cooperation between Member States in this field.

Budapest/Brussels – 2021.05.24.

Tamás Jordán: “The Orban-regime does not understand how Karácsony has the courage to be calm!”


eree“They are starting to be afraid” – this is how the actor Tamás Jordán explained the government’s vehement attack on Gergely Karácsony, who is running for prime minister.

The Actor of the Nation spoke about this in the latest episode of the video series of Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi entitled HETI KETTES UJHELYIVEL (Weekly Two with Ujhelyi). Tamás Jordán makes no secret of his support for the current mayor in the race for prime minister, which is why his name is among the founders of the 99Movement announced by Karácsony.

In the video discussion on social media, the actor said, among other things, that he does not understand why some people think it is okay that billions of forints are disappearing in the country. “I am friends with Gergely Karácsony, I have always respected what he does. I think he’s the right person to put things in order (…) You don’t always have to fight with a snarl, you have to listen to the other party, as well. Karácsony is looking for compromise even where it’s impossible, and this suggests that he will find a common ground with the country.

His programme is also based on the need to unite this divided country,” Tamás Jordán said in the video. During his conversation with István Ujhelyi, the actor added that he believed the current authorities were attacking the MSZP-Dialogue candidate for prime minister because they don’t understand “what makes him so brave that he dares to be so calm?”

In the latest episode of WEEKLY TWO WITH UJHELYI, the mental health package of proposals advocated by István Ujhelyi is also discussed, which Jordán also called important and assured the MEP of his support. He said that there is a general sense of panic and desperation in the world of theatre because of the livelihood problems caused by covid restrictions.

“There are so many desperate, hopeless artists,” he added, agreeing that mental health support should be strengthened and expanded as soon as possible. The European programme of free train passes for 18-year-olds was also discussed in the video interview, and the actor unexpectedly also recited an Endre Ady-poem that is poignantly relevant to Hungary today.

Brussels/Budapest – 21.05.2021.

Ujhelyi: Future of FreeInteRail Pass Scheme Secured on Long Run


ujjeeAnother success, another important milestone in securing the future of the free InterRail season ticket programme that I mentor: the European Parliament has just adopted by a large majority in its plenary session the framework budget for the Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027, including the DiscoverEU programme for free train passes.

It as an important and hard-fought achievement that the Erasmus+ funding envelope will be almost double the one for the previous period: it is now around €28 billion, which helps increase the number of people benefiting from Erasmus+, expand the range of grants for learning abroad and simplify accessibility. For me, it is an historic success that, despite the efforts of many opponents, we have managed to include the free InterRail pass programme in Erasmus+, which will ensure the long-term operation of this pioneering programme, at least for the next seven years.

Therefore, thousands of young Hungarians will again be able to benefit from free train passes in the coming period, with this year’s combined application opening in October; travel will be possible after the epidemic has passed, of course. This year alone, around 1 100 young Hungarians will be able to apply for the passes, including those who missed out last year due to covid restrictions.

The idea for “FreeInterRail” came from two young German activists, Vincent-Immanuel Herr and Martin Speer, who proposed a few years ago that the European Union surprise every young person in Europe with a free train pass on their 18th birthday. I was one of the first people to take on the initiative and supported it until implementation, with EPP Group President Manfred Weber and former EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics also on board, which played a major role later on. During the pilot period of the programme, more than 350,000 young Europeans signed up, of whom more than 70,000 received a free train pass. The success of the initiative is also demonstrated by the fact that the number of oversubscriptions for the passes available in Hungary was almost ten times higher than the number of applications received, and the programme has won numerous awards, including the European Excellence Award.

MEP István Ujhelyi

Brussels/Budapest – 19.05.2021.


Gergő, You Can Count on Me!


uikg2I want to live in the kind of country that Gergely Karácsony painted yesterday. Where freedom, peace and, oh how this word has disappeared in the last ten years, humanity reign at last.

Where it is not a narrow party elite that decides who is a true Hungarian, who is a true patriot, who can get a tobacconist’s store, who can apply for an EU tender, who can even get to breathe. I too want a Hungary where not a privileged elite of 1 per cent rules everything, but where government decisions finally serve the interests of the 99 per cent. It was heart-warming to listen to Gergely Karácsony talk about rebuilding the republic, restoring the rule of law and reparations. There was no trace of hatred, arrogance or anger towards people who think differently in his words. He spoke with a voice of humanity. We have not heard such speeches for a long time.

If there is anyone who can finally bring some peace to this country that has been dragged into an intellectual civil war, it is Gergely Karácsony. If there is anyone who, with his openness and his willingness to compromise (much attacked, still one of his outstanding values) can finally bury the trenches left after the Orange Storm, it is Gergely Karácsony. Because next year, we need not just a change of government, but a change of era and regime. The reunification of the country and the nation, and the dismissal of the few who are chewing the country’s body to the bone. The 99 per cent referred to by Gergely Karácsony are not right-wing or left-wing, they are simply Hungarian. We, all of us. I know for a fact that there are many in the upper echelons of Fidesz who are ashamed to add their names to this plundering, this hedonistic robbery. I know exactly how many of Fidesz’s supporters are also sickened by the plastic aristocracy of the National Cooperation System’s (NER) elite, by the luxury bought with public money, by the expensive high-life of cheap people. This 1 per cent, the predatory elite, must be removed next year and put to rest, and there is room for everyone else in the 99 per cent: because we are all needed to reunite the country. Finally, the divisions can come to an end.

I want to live in a country led by Gergely Karácsony. Because his knowledge, experience and humanity will make Hungary a better place. You may say that I am biased, because we have known each other since we were fourteen years old, we were schoolmates at the Tóth Árpád High School in Debrecen. But this is more than supporting an old friend. As a family man with six children, a Hungarian MEP, a proud social democrat and a proud Hungarian patriot, I stand behind Gergely Karácsony in his capacity as a candidate for Prime Minister, and join the 99Movement he has launched and announced. Gergő, you can count on me!

You can find the 99Movement’s website here:

After the Hungarian PM’s landmark speech in Tusványos in 2014, in which he proclaimed his desire to turn Hungary into an illiberal state, as a MEP I pledged to draw the public’s attention to the crimes of this regime in an open letter every week. This is the 298th  time I ring the bells of alarm, as it still seems necessary. And also, because as a radical European Democrat, it is my duty to do so.

István Ujhelyi

Member of the European Parliament

16 May 2021.

Hungary Cannot Be in Opposition to Europe 


18029Hungary cannot be in opposition to Europe, we will reshape the European Union together, said MSZP MEP István Ujhelyi, at the Socialist Party’s Europe Day online press conference on Sunday.

István Ujhelyi stressed that the European Union is built on cooperation between nations, providing protection from autocratic political leaders or external threats. It is in the interest of us, Hungarians, to remain members of the EU, but to be members of a changing community that can ensure peace, security, welfare, economic cooperation and the everyday livelihood of its people.

He announced that MSZP would join the conference on the future of Europe, launched by the three top EU institutions. The aim of the process is to hold a series of discussions that will bring about a reformed and transformed Europe of the future.

István Ujhelyi also announced a series of dialogues with well-known experts on a month-by-month basis to discuss what kind of Europe would be best for the ideas that fit MSZP’s programme. The topics he listed included the European minimum wage programme, the European health programme, climate policy, transport policy, tourism and whether harmonization is needed between Member States in the fields of education and the social sector.

MSZP co-president Ágnes Kunhalmi called the EU one of the most wonderful achievements in history and stressed that the aim of the Community’s creation from the very beginning was to preserve and create peace.

She pointed out that the European Community had and still has to face many challenges, which its members have to shape. Examples of such challenges include climate change, drastically widening social disparities, pandemics and the rise of global capital, which often leaves workers vulnerable. Integration needs to be deepened and nation states need to work more closely together; a closed, nation-state policy cannot provide effective responses to the challenges, she said.

“We brought Hungary into Europe and we will do our utmost to ensure that this Community survives”, she said.

She called it promising that despite “Orbán’s anti-Brussels policy”, the vast majority of Hungarians still saw their future in the EU and would join the Community today, too.

“We should not fear that Orbán would lead Hungary out of the European Union, because Hungarians will veto that.” Rather, we should be afraid that the new radical right-wing tendencies will try to paralyse and limit the European Union’s capacity to act, in order to maintain and finance their authoritarian power while “hiding behind nation-state sovereignty,” she said.

She said that when Viktor Orbán and the prime minister’s radical right-wing allies exclude their political opponents from the nation, when they stigmatize those who disagree with them, dehumanize their political opponents and “try to block the alternation of political regime again and again”, “it has very often led to war in history.” According to Ágnes Kunhalmi, one of the big stakes of next year’s elections is “whether we can free Europe from the authoritarian Orbán regime.”