March 2012
Hungarian Psychiatric Association

The Hungarian Psychiatric Association (HPA) held its 17th Annual Conference on 26-28 January 2012. The venue was in Debrecen, the north-eastern Hungarian university town, and one of the cultural hubs of Hungary. This year’s theme was “Body-Soul-Family-Community: The Borders of Developing Psychiatry”. There were more than 1,500 participants including researchers and practitioners, psychiatrists, other medical professionals, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and of course, residents. At the conference there were over 200 scientific presentations, 18 Symposia, 8 plenary sessions, and multiple keynote lectures. There were separate sections for young researchers and residents. Contributions were also made by patients and care associations as part of the conference’s cultural events. The HPA (founded in 1980) has both individual and organizational membership and includes branches in Slovakia and Romania.

The conference boasted many distinguished national and international presenters. The opening plenary speaker was Prof. Tamás Freund, one of the winners of the European Brain Prize in 2011, who spoke about basic research on the endocannabinoid systems in the brain, in relation to anxiety and epilepsy. The next session was dedicated to community approaches: Dr. Afzal Javed, Secretary for Sections of the WPA made a presentation about involving patients, care givers and families in treatment programmes as well as emerging priorities in current psychiatric practice. Prof. Graham Thornicroft, from King’s College London discussed the balanced care model for better mental health. Two Hungarian professionals of the field commented on the talks from a Hungarian point of view: Ida Kosza and Judit Harangozó. A symposium on psychosocial rehabilitation by the board member of World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation was also an important, related presentation (Ida Kosza, Afzal Javed).

Prof. Zoltán Janka, Prof. Csaba Pléh, psychologist, member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, and Tamás Kurimay explored the utilization of network approaches in cognitive psychology, psychiatry and family psychotherapy. The last keynote panel was about interdisciplinary topics: cardiovascular diseases and diabetes related to psychiatry, specially ESPECIALLY OR THE SPECIALITY of affective disorders, and co-morbidities.  Prof. Zoltán Rihmer, one of the best known Hungarian psychiatrists, Prof. Aladár Rónaszéki, cardiologist, and Prof. Tibor Hídvégi, diabetologist were on the panel and gave important examples of the need for cooperation with “somatic” medicine.

There were presentations and active exchanges with primarily European and International programmes and projects from the point of view of Hungarian contributors.  Topics included: surveys for prevention, community-based interventions among adults and youth on preventing suicide, and depression and addictions.  Prof. István Bitter, Anita Rostás, and their team, Szabolcs Szigeti, Zsófia Pusztai (WHO) offered presentations on the BCA WHO project, while Prof. Maria Kopp and her team discussed the EAAD, OSPI PREDI-NU projects.  Judit Balázs, med. habil. and her team spoke about adolescents and the SEYLE. Besides Internet addictions, a growing number of new forms of illicit drug abuse as Catie and MDPV reported, there were other critical topics widely explored during the conference. Profs. József Rácz, Zsolt Demetrovics and Ede Frecska and their teams presented about Hungarian experience. Utilizing the resources of sports, sport psychology and psychiatry including so-called pushy parents syndrome, exercise addiction, etc., were discussed with the help of Timea Nagy, two-time Olympic, and Dóra Pásztory, two-time Paraolympic champions.

While it was a successful conference the HPA also reflected problems facing Hungarian psychiatry including: inadequate support for graduate and postgraduate education and research, a need to close the gap between clinical research and practice, the growing necessity for the population to have access to modern small institutions, the difficulty in shifting towards community-based approaches, the need for more involvment from users and care givers in the services and last but not least, the lack of support for residents and young career psychiatrists resulting in a migration of human resources in the field.

Tamás Kurimay

President of the HPA Conference

Chair, WPA Section on Family Research and Intervention


From left: István Bitter, Graham Thornicroft, Tamás Kurimay, Judit Harangozó, and Afzal Javed.




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