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Journey of the EMPOWER FOR 21 Project Team to the Land of Fjords

It has been over a year since the commencement of the EMPOWER FOR 21 project, which advocates for empowering 21st-century professionals in the fields of communication and leadership, caring for mental health, and the use of critical thinking in their work. During this time, educational workshops on these areas have taken place, and educational modules/programs have been developed, with the aim of sustainable implementation in the future. To finalize the program for teaching about mental disorders, our experts from the Medical Faculty of the University of Maribor and the University Medical Center Maribor visited our Norwegian project partner to gain experience and knowledge.

The study visit to the Kingdom of Norway took place from September 21 to 25, specifically at the branch of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Oslo.

As the visit was primarily dedicated to developing a program for teaching about mental disorders, experts reviewed the work already done on the project and planned the next steps. In October, we are planning to conduct a pilot test of the developed mental health program, which will involve educating tutors from the Medical Faculty in Maribor, who will then further educate medical students.

During the study visit, a significant amount of time was also dedicated to exchanging good practices in teaching mental health. When reviewing similar projects being implemented worldwide, we found that many of them are based on the Canadian document “Transitions”, just like ours. Our program is most similar to the Finnish model; however, in the EMPOWER FOR 21 project, we actively strive for cultural adaptation and ensuring that the materials remain accessible to the public for an extended period, possibly as an elective course, and so on.

During the planning and implementation, we have received valuable assistance and support from an expert in Norway and Canadian authors of the previously mentioned document with whom we have established contact. We also draw additional knowledge from various conferences and congresses that we attend during the project’s implementation.

After brainstorming, we had plenty of time to explore the beautiful city of Oslo :).

The same experts met again a few days later at the 23rd World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Congress in Vienna, which took place from September 28 to October 1. There, we presented our project and gathered feedback and comments from the participants in the discussion. During the congress, we learned about new guidelines, knowledge, and perspectives for action, emerging data, and analytical trends. The knowledge we acquired will be shared with our colleagues at the University Medical Centre Maribor and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Maribor. These presented data will be beneficial in the phase of upgrading the mental health program that we are developing as part of the EMPOWER FOR 21 project.

The congress provided us with the opportunity to meet in person with the Canadian authors of the “Transitions” program (see the image below). We took advantage of this opportunity to further discuss ways to sustainably implement the knowledge we acquired.


For both visits, we can say that they brought us a lot of joy and were also helpful in advancing the project, which involves sustainable implementation, as well as in the professional development of our staff, who are dedicated to spreading the acquired knowledge further.


The EMPOWER FOR 21 Project Team