Learn Health Competence

Learn Health Competence

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

People learn to live and grow by way of developing new and healthy ways of living together. Openly and honestly, recovering addicts share their experiences, strengths and hopes with one another. Those with chronic mental health problems may benefit from recovering addicts' experiences and ways of learning health understood as a community-based personal competence.
The aim of the learning process is care for ourselves, our fellows and the community.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The issue of dependence is a core problem in late modern consumer societies. The key to constructive transformation is responsibility for others and for one’s self. Health learning is considered as a kind of a rite of passage: transformations from states of disease into healthy and integrated states. The lay idea of sobriety, highlighting this joint responsibility, central in 12-step philosophies, has recently been translated to professional terms as recovery capital in the field of addiction studies. Recovery capital is defined as social supports, spirituality, life meaning and 12-step involvement. Addressing issues of responsibility and emphasizing a learning process that is rooted in one’s own experiences, shaped in one’s own communities, is true empowerment. A person empowered through learning health competence is motivated to sustain own health and help one’s fellows. This is in contrast with harm-reduction approaches and approaches concentrating on abstinence: these focus on “not doing”, “not happening”, in other words, exclusively on NOTs. These do not represent a sustainable and meaningful purpose in one’s life. Learning health competence focuses on gains and personal growth: that is, concentrates on meaningful activities and relationships. This is not to deny that there are problems in one’s life and there are situations that should be avoided: the claim is that to live a healthy (whole) life one needs a positive goal.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Learning health competence is a form of relational learning and is based on continual feedback and reinforcement from one's communities. Health learning should not be reduced to learning "whats" and "hows" but "whys" as well: one is able to care about one's own health if this endeavor is meaningful for her/him. Growing in health entails growing one's social capital that, in turn, stabilizes the outcomes of learning and enriches community relations. The aim of the learning process is to reach the state of reflective competence: Awareness enables the person to teach it to others (sustainability and dissemination). Further, one can realize the personal significance of the given knowledge in one’s life and, occasionally, is able to reach transient states of unique creativity. This is realized through active involvement in one's own community, by introducing various forms of activities such as theatre therapy. The disease turns into a means which can be utilized in the process of healing. All the calamities, shame, humiliation, loss of control, etc. having been experienced by an addict become resources of artistic work ready to be used. Group therapy, exercises in tough love, set in an atmosphere emotionally safe is the main forum of giving confronting feedback, reconstructing common experiences and developing a shared use of language. Self-pitying, manipulation, blaming others, projection and denial are recurring topics of feedback. During ergotherapy, everyday activities are reinterpreted and learnt to be done in healthy ways. When doing everyday work, new skills, such as responsibility, discipline, persistence, steadfastness and other non-specific elements of working activities can be learnt. The clients are also involved in activities which do not match the pattern set forth by the traditional male-female roles.
About You
Leo Amici 2002 Addictionology Foundation
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Leo Amici 2002 Addictionology Foundation

Organization Phone

00 36 72 482 903

Organization Address

7300, 30 Bajcsy-Zs. street

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.

More than two decades after the transition the Hungarian society is struggling with the impact of the recent global economic crisis and the social and cultural legacy of state socialism. Currently, in terms of material deprivation, 37% can be considered poor and the living standards is below the one it used to be before the political transformation in 1989. The rate of inactivity (55%) and unemployment (12%) are high; and the Hungarian society is an aging society.
In the years of state socialism collaboration in the society was rendered more difficult and personal ambitions were discouraged. Due to unpredictable, inconsistent rules and conventions, passivity as the safest personal survival strategy prevailed. The continuity normally experienced in one’s lifetime has been interrupted by sudden ideological shifts. Stories of severe historic traumatizations were silenced. Thinking in terms of the ideology of the ruling regime, all deviances were determined to be the results of exploitation. The system claimed itself to be free from exploitation: consequently, identification and treatment of many mental and social problems, such as poverty, suicide and homelessness were not possible until late 1970s. By that time the problems (especially suicide and alcoholism) grew grave as Hungary ranked among the forerunners in international statistics. State care for addicts was based on coercion. The first Hungarian AA meeting took place in 1988, one year before the transition.

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Our community is a health learning community. We understand health as wholeness, the integration of the totality of our experiences. The founders were inspired by the shortcomings of the contemporary system of state health care and by the atmosphere of change salient in the early 1990s in Hungary. The model of learning health competence has been shaped by more than 20 years of practical work and the wish to integrate lay and professional approaches to build a model that promotes substantial change.
Founders believe that some cultural characteristics of Western societies as well as Central and Eastern European countries have certain weaknesses in handling the topic of addictions. In spite of hard work and professional expertise, the spread of addictions suggest that it is the very foundations of care that have to be critically examined.
Our aim is to build a framework where patterns of learnt helplessness can be transformed into patterns of learnt resourcefulness.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Our project's success can be measured first and foresmost by the improved qulaity of life of those persons who have taken their first and most important steps in the journey of recovery at our institution. Sober clients share their experiences and, by means of social learnings, newcomers or "neophytes" benefit from the lessons of their life stories. Some of our former clients established their own institution in Budapest (Stop Group) and now they have their own clients who they can help as fellows.
The other measure of our succes is the strong and extended network of home and international institutions, and multisectorial collaboration connecting NGO-s, state and for-profit institutions, including renowned academic institutions.
Third, a great number of publications were written about our work, includig several books, articles in English and in Hungarian.
Professionals and students spend their sabbatical or placement in our institution.
Our presence in the media an din the Internet helps spread our message concerning health learning.
An important indicator of success is steady and predictable state support.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

publications in English and in Hungarian (web&other)
conferences for helpers
community discussions (conferences for lay public) in several cities

Task 1

building and using the network of professionals and acdemic staff

Task 2

applying for funding to policy makers for conferences and trainings

Task 3

Continual presence in the media and in the Internet; building informal ties in the local community and formal ties with umbrella organizations.

Identify your 12-month impact milestone

The 12-month milestone includes the introduction of a treatment protocol in the country; influence policy makers to increase the number of institutions/professionals; evaluation

Task 1

Introduction of a treatment protocol based on health learning

Task 2

Influence policy makers to adopt the model throughout the country

Task 3

Independent evaluation research to help multiplication and fine tuning of the program.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The number of recovering clients (persons with severe forms of former drug abuse) will increase. The number of institutions adopting learning health compentence as a basis for their work will increase and such institutions will be accessible from all the regions of the country.
A treatment protocol based on our ideas and pratices will be outlined, accepted and introduced in the Hungarian rehabilitation homes.
10-20 professionals will receieve trainings in our methods.
Our presence in the media will be more and more significant to let the wider public know about our work.
Evaluation research will be finished and the results will be disseminated.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The legacy of state socialism is still present in many institutions: one among these is the lack of treatment protocols, where it is not the activity that is decisive, but the person performing the given activity.
We want to work to introduce treatment protocols that would establish a safe and predictable environment for the clients and for the professionals, as well as for the funders.
Second, many people have "inherited" a passive stance from the previous system: they long for quick fix instead of a painful but meaningful learning process. Community support and personal gains that are experienced in the process of health learning will challenge and, in the long run, overcome these attitudes.
Lack of financing (e.g., lack of therapeutic institutions) may be compensated by the policy changes in the field that will redirect existing resources into the recovery models that we provide. Similarly, we provide practical trainings for professionals.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have built strong partnership with home rehabilitation institutions,which includes professional discussions, participation in conferences and other exchange experiences. Of all these relationships, our connection with the Budapest Stop Group, established in 1998 by our former clients, is most important. In 2008 they were awarded by the prize of the NGO of the Year in Hungary.
Our academic partners are the University of Pecs and the Semmelweis University from Budapest. We provide field training for social workers and we have conducted several research projects together.
We are a member of Euro TC and organize and participate in events in theatre therapy. We regularly participate in events as Soccer Cup without Drugs and other international events.

Explain your selections

The process of health learning is supported by experts' and service users' own friends and families, and other individuals living in the local neighbourhood. Regarding our mission to build strong community ties we consider such support most important.
The inclusion of the for-profit sector introduces missing patterns of corporate responsibility into the Hungarian society and serves of mission by direct financial support.
The local government supports us by ensuring access to several institutions such as space for theatre rehearsals and sports facilities. This is a mutual relationship as we serve them by organizing prevention activities understood as health learning activites for local secondary school pupils.
Normative state support is very significant in the budget of the institution. In 2011 we were invited for the European Conference of the Drug Coordination Officers and we presented a theatre play in Budapest.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

The contemporary system of health and social care is changing rapidly. Old patterns of living on state benefits and allowances and introducing costly but ineffective models are not sustainable any more. Our thereaputic model is based on true empowerment: that is, we encourage our clients to take responsibility for themselves and for their communities; and serve the community and their own growth by creative work. True recovery - in contrast with harm reduction programs - is a priority in today's Hungary. This is why the extension of our model is expected.
Second, we plan to disseminate our results in several forums:
- professional journals
- websites
- community discussions
Networking is a main means of promoting the model: by networking, we mean professional and intersectorial collaboration; home and international professional networks.

Which barriers to health and well-being does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Incentives for unhealthy living


Lack of insurance/financing options for healthcare


Lack of physical access to care/lack of facilities

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

The incentives for unhealthy living is present in the anomic Hungarian society. To combat these incentives alternative community-based modesl should be established: At our institution, sober ways of life are introduced into the local community through regular meetings and we often visit health care and education institutions as well. Here, our message is communicated via theatre performances and dialogues.
Policy makers have to make decisions on state support:resources in the social and health sector are very limited. However, our work has proved that we are effective in the treatment of addictions. Our model has long-term results, in contrast with other approaches; it is more cost-effective.
Existing facilities may and do adopt our model.

How are you growing the impact of your organization or initiative?
Please select up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices


Grown geographic reach: Multi-country


Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

The spread of best practicies is an existing and effective strategy of our program. Through our international connections, new relationships wil be formed and our model will be replicated. This is a goal in the hosting country as well.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

We have been enjoying strong governement support due to our results: experts visit our institutions to collect best practices and consult us before making policy decisions (e.g., National Drug Strategy)
Our organization is a model for similar institutions in the country. Our role is decisive within EuroTC (theatre therapy)
Several for-profit firms supported us (e.g. Levi's from 1997-2003)
We have a strong and flourishing collaboration with academic institutions, e.g., the University of Pecs (social work) and the Semmelweis University in Budapest (addiction counseling) . Our collaboration have included several research projects and training programmes.