Project Empath

"Do you know...?"

Research has shown that one in three children has experienced bullying in the last 30 days, which increases the risk of poor health, social, and educational outcomes in childhood and adolescence (Armitage, 2021). Additionally, bullying can potentially cause physical injury, emotional distress, and violate basic human rights. Even witnessing bullying directed at someone else can take a toll on our well-being (Chen et al., 2021).

Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying, with one in three children worldwide having experienced it. In 2020, 33% of girls and 20% of boys in Europe reported being exposed to disturbing content online at least once a month. The pandemic, which has increased the time we spend on screens, has exacerbated this issue. Cyberbullying has been the most common problem that young people turn to safer internet centers in Europe for help with for over five years, which are funded by the EU (EC, 2022).

Get to know your distress

What is anxiety?
Anxiety is experienced as an unpleasant uneasiness due to a feeling of threat and fear. It is usually harder to pinpoint the cause of this feeling, so we are surrounded by a more general feeling of tension and discomfort. Anxiety can change our behaviour (e.g. avoidance, defiance), thinking (e.g. difficulty concentrating, persistent thoughts such as I’m going to die, I’m going crazy, I’m going to embarrass myself) and physical experience (e.g. tingling, nausea, trembling, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, chest tightness, etc.).


How can you help yourself?
Taking care of your general health (remember to get enough sleep, eat and drink) and doing activities that relax you (meditation, controlled breathing, mindfulness, visualisation, gradual muscle relaxation) and that you enjoy (hobbies, sports activities) are important, not forgetting the importance of exercise in nature. We have to make an effort to identify and not avoid situations and causes that are stressing us, but to face them in a way that challenges negative thoughts and turns them into more realistic ones.

What is depression?
We are depressed when we experience a mood disorder with intense and prolonged emotional symptoms (for example, loss of hope, will and joy, deep depression, feelings of worthlessness and helplessness), thinking (e.g. difficulty concentrating and remembering, possible suicidal thoughts), behaviour (e.g. withdrawal from social interactions, impaired performance of daily activities) and physical functioning (e.g. fatigue, sleep and appetite disturbances, physical pain). Depression is one of the most prevalent disorders, with 17% of the population experiencing it at least once in their lifetime.


How can you help yourself?
When we become depressed, the balance of chemical transmitters in our brain is disrupted, so it is advisable to see a doctor who can prescribe psychological counselling, psychotherapy and/or appropriate medication. It is also very important to keep up with enjoyable and stimulating activities, but not to set goals that are too high. Try to be social, even though we may find solitude more attractive. We should confide in others who will be there to support us. Refrain from dwelling on negative thoughts (such as “it will never get better” or “it’s my own fault”) and remind yourself that your thoughts are not facts. Make sure to eat healthy food, drink enough fluids and be physically active. Realise that it will get better, but it takes more small and slow steps.

What is discrimination based on sexual orientation, expression and identity?
Discrimination means any unjustified unequal treatment, distinction, exclusion, restriction or omission, whether in fact or in law, based on personal circumstances, which has the purpose or effect of impeding, diminishing or nullifying the equal recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, other rights, legal interests and benefits. Protection against discrimination is guaranteed by law to all individuals in Slovenia.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ population continue to face isolation, living in fear and discrimination, and are often subject to violence because of their sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.


Where can I get help?
Advocate of the Principle of Equality: or log on to or call every weekday between 10:00 and 12:00 and on Wednesdays between 15:00 and 18:00 on 080 81 80
Inspectorate responsible (depending on the area in which the discrimination occurred)
The Human Rights Ombudsman:
In case of physical violence, report to the police (113) or to the local social work centre
Legebitra – call 030 361 281 weekdays between 9am and 5pm or send an email to

What is anger?

Anger is a basic but powerful emotion that we experience as a reaction to frustration (annoyance, obstacle, threat, provocation, harm) in a situation. It is often perceived as a negative emotion in everyday life, but it is a perfectly normal, sometimes even useful emotion that can help us to achieve our goals in a more motivated way. Anger can trigger physical changes in us, such as rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and high adrenaline levels, and can quickly cloud our judgement. We must therefore learn to control our anger; make sure it is not too intense and that it does not turn aggressive, as this tends to harm ourselves and others.


How can you help yourself?

Observe yourself and try to identify the tell-tale signs of anger that your body is telling you that you are angry (increased pressure in your head, headache, shaking, flushing) and then consciously shift your attention away from your anger. Break the whirlwind of unpleasant thoughts. Focus on slow, deep breathing. Try to truly understand the other person’s intention and perspective. Calm down before reacting, or temporarily retreat elsewhere. Do not suppress unpleasant feelings, but express them in a controlled, thoughtful and respectful manner. Healthy eating and physical activity can help to reduce tension in general.


What are conflicts in interpersonal relationships?

Interpersonal conflicts are various misunderstandings between two or more people. They can be expressed verbally or non-verbally. Often we keep a problem about a relationship to ourselves, but do nothing to address it. The most distressing are the problems we have in our relationships with those closest to us (parents, partner, friends) and those with whom we spend a large amount of time on a daily basis (classmates, colleagues). The more important a relationship is to us, the more distress we may feel if problems and conflicts do not settle down for a long period of time.


How can you help yourself?

It is important to try to address the problem together with the other person through open communication. Try to communicate assertively and in this way speak openly but respectfully about your opinion on the problem. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and try to truly understand the other person’s perspective. If verbal communication is difficult, you can also start by writing a letter. In case of major disagreements, it is useful to attend counselling with the other person to explore the problem and the relationship together with a person with expertise.

What is negative self-image?

Negative self-image is a critical, negative evaluation of oneself, one’s abilities and one’s position in the world, and can lead to strong feelings of inferiority, which can hinder one’s ability to act and can also encourage various unconstructive behaviours. Since negative self-esteem affects not only our thinking but also our behaviour, it is good to address the distress associated with low self-esteem and to make efforts to improve our self-esteem. There are different sub-dimensions of self-esteem: physical, academic, social, family, emotional. For instance, we may have a high self-esteem of our role in society (high social self-esteem), but a low self-esteem of our emotional state and our responsiveness to certain situations (low emotional self-esteem).


How can you help yourself?

You can deal with the consequences of low self-esteem by practising relaxation techniques that help you calm down when you are experiencing intense, unpleasant emotions and thoughts. It is advisable to socialise with people who raise our energy levels and to be physically active in the fresh air as much as possible. Try to start a journal where we write down our thoughts and where we can look for other aspects of the situation that is upsetting us, testing whether our negative beliefs are really true. Let’s make a list of five things we like about ourselves and three things we are good at. Beliefs about ourselves are often deep and difficult to change, so it is helpful to seek professional help when dealing with problems in self-esteem.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is an extreme anxiety attack that occurs most often for no apparent reason and usually lasts for a few minutes to half an hour. When we have a panic attack, our body prepares to flee or fight as a large amount of adrenaline is released. There may be great fear (usually that we will die, lose control or lose our sanity), intense discomfort, palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking, chest pain, shortness of breath, hyperventilating, feeling faint, light-headed, dizzy, tingling, numbness, or a feeling that we will lose consciousness. It is good not to avoid thinking about a panic attack we have experienced, but to try to get to know the subject better.


How can you help yourself?

During a panic attack, control your breathing and breathe deeply and very slowly, prolonging the exhalation (for example, 7 seconds in and 11 seconds out, counting the seconds in your mind). If you cannot stop hyperventilating, breathe into a paper bag. Burn off the adrenaline rush by walking fast, then gradually slowing down. Interrupt negative thoughts and distract yourself, for example subtract 7 from 1000 towards 0. Remember that experiencing a panic attack is unpleasant, but it will pass and is not life-threatening. It is also helpful to maintain an active lifestyle, eat a healthy diet and avoid stimulants (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, sweets).

What is self-harm?

Scratching, pinching, pulling hair and cutting one’s own body are the most common ways of self-harm, which are ways of releasing mental tension by inflicting physical pain on oneself. Since self-harm is an ineffective and, above all, a health-threatening way of coping with distress and mental pain, it is good to learn a more constructive way of coping with distress.


How can you help yourself?

Try to recognise that self-injurious behaviour is a problem that will not solve our psychological distress, but will help to maintain it in the long run. Remind yourself that there are other, better and more effective ways of coping with problems and distress, starting with alternative behaviours that are not dangerous to you – for example, repeatedly tightening and loosening the elastic around your wrist, taking a few ice cubes to melt in your hand, or releasing the feelings that trigger the urge to self-harm by hitting pillows and cushions. Create a “safe box” to keep things close to you (photos, pictures, objects with emotional value), which you open whenever you feel difficult. Surround yourself with people you trust and talk to them about your inner world and self-harm. You can also keep a diary to learn to identify your feelings, thoughts and situations that trigger uncomfortable feelings. It is useful to explore and practise different relaxation techniques (for example, mindful breathing) when you feel well; this will make it easier to use them when you feel worse. Seek professional help to develop effective problem-solving skills and to cope with emotional distress.




SOS Telephone Society for Women and Children - Victims of Violence.

Free SOS telephone, 24 hours a day: 080 11 55.

SOS shelter: 24 hours a day: 080 11 55. Both safe houses operate and accept women and children – victims of violence.

SOS personal counseling: every workday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: 031 699 333.

Counseling by email:



For personal assistance, you can contact:

Ljubljana has two options for urgent psychiatric care: during the day (8:15 am to 2:45 pm), visit the emergency psychiatric clinic at Njegoševa 4 or after hours, call the psychiatric emergency service at Grablovičeva ulica 44a. In Maribor, the psychiatric urgent care clinic at UKC Maribor is open 24/7. The psychiatric hospital in Vojnik also has a 24-hour urgent care clinic, while Ormož has an emergency clinic with a duty doctor available from 10 am to 3 pm every day. Contact information for each facility is provided as well.

Ljubljana: For children up to 15 years old at the Pediatric Clinic, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, on weekdays from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm; for adolescents up to 19 years old at the University Psychiatric Clinic, Zaloška 29, Ljubljana, on weekdays from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.

Maribor: For children and adolescents at the Clinic for Pediatrics, University Medical Centre Maribor, Ljubljanska ulica 5, Maribor, on weekdays from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.

Regional Centers for Mental Health of Children and Adolescents (listed at the link)

More links

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Opolnomočenje mladih za sodelovanje v boju proti spolnim stereotipom, s posebnim poudarkom na obravnavi toksičnih vzorcev vedenja in moškosti

(Empowering Youth to Engage in Combating Gender Stereotypes by Addressing Toxic Masculinity Patterns and Behaviour)

EMPATH je dvoletni projekt, ki temelji na zmanjševanju diskriminacije na podlagi spola v izobraževalnem sistemu in uvajanju perspektive enakosti spolov v vse oblike izobraževalnih praks, ter na ozaveščanju ciljnih skupin projekta in slovenske javnosti o spolnih stereotipih ter prevladujočih tradicionalnih normah moškosti, ki mnogokrat vodijo v neustrezne vzorce vedenja.

Ključne projektne aktivnosti sledijo zasledovanju temeljnih projektnih ciljev:

EMPATH sofinancira Evropska komisija v sklopu programa Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values(CERV 2021–2027).

Naši partnerji:


Empowering Youth to Engage in Combating Gender Stereotypes by Addressing Toxic Masculinity Patterns and Behaviour

EMPATH je dvoletni projekt, ki temelji na zmanjševanju diskriminacije na podlagi spola v izobraževalnem sistemu in uvajanju perspektive enakosti spolov v vse oblike izobraževalnih praks, ter na ozaveščanju ciljnih skupin projekta in slovenske javnosti o spolnih stereotipih ter prevladujočih tradicionalnih normah moškosti, ki mnogokrat vodijo v neustrezne vzorce vedenja.

Ključne projektne aktivnosti sledijo zasledovanju temeljnih projektnih ciljev:

EMPATH sofinancira Evropska komisija v sklopu programa Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values(CERV 2021–2027).