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Mosaic - The project

The development of Mosaic

It is well known that both the mental health and labor market participation of refugees are often problematic. This relationship is twofold: on the one hand, mental problems hinder the chances of participation, on the other hand, unemployment negatively effects mental health. In practice, little attention is being paid to this relationship. For this reason, scholars of Radboud University developed Mosaic: a positive psychology course aimed at improving the mental health and (labor market) participation of Syrian refugees.

Mosaic was developed and implemented in collaboration with the target group itself and with relevant local organizations: GGD, Vluchtelingenwerk, Pro Persona, Indigo, the municipality of Nijmegen and Yalla Foundation.

For more information (in Dutch), please visit this page on which ZonMw provides a project description.

Structure and content of Mosaic

Mosaic is based on positive psychology. Whereas traditional psychology is aimed at curing disorders, positive psychology is aimed at strengthening mental well-being. It thus helps participants rebuild their lives in the Netherlands. It does so by making them think about their life values with regard to different areas in life: work/study, social contacts and selfcare. Accordingly, they will formulate goals in accordance with these values and they are being motivated to acts upon these goals. There will be obstacles in meeting these goals and together they are going to think of solutions.

In practice, Mosaic consists of six group meetings, which are held in Arabic. The meetings are supervised by a main trainer and an experience expert (a former refugee who has found his way in Dutch society). The main trainer has a background in mental health care and is responsible for following the course manuals. The experience expert tells about his/her own experience with regard to the theme of the meeting, which lowers the threshold for the participants to share their experiences as well. Do you want to know more about each meeting? Then click here!

Process evaluation and effectiveness research

Mosaic has successfully been implemented already in six municipalities in the Netherlands: Nijmegen, Druten, Groesbeek, Arnhem, Culemborg and Tiel. To evaluate the course, a process evaluation and an effectiveness study (randomized controlled trial with waitlist control group) were carried out.

For the process evaluation, the trainers and participants completed questionnaires after the meetings. This shows that they both think that the course is of good quality and that it has clear added value for the target group. The effectiveness study consisted largely of quantitative research. To this end, the participants completed a questionnaire before, immediately after and six months after the course. In addition, CBS data was used for the demographic characteristics and labor market participation of participants. These data were analyzed by t-tests and regression analyses.

Compared to the pre-measurement, the participants of the intervention group scored better at overall mental well-being, emotional well-being and having a purpose in life. The effect on having a purpose in life persisted six months after participation. These developments were not found in the control group.

With regard to (labor market) participation, the intervention group made more progress with regard to following an internship or having a work experience place when compared with the control group. They also had more confidence to find a paid job and to find a job that fits their previous work experience and education.

RIVM recognition

The project ‘Positive psychology for Arabic speaking refugees’ has been selected by the European Union as one of the most successful ESF-SITS projects.

In addition, the RIVM evaluated (the effect of) Mosaic and gave recognition that Mosaic has been proven effective in improving a healthy and active lifestyle.


For more information about Mosaic, please contact José Muller-Dugic: jose.muller@ru.nl.