Paul Sterk

Consultancy, trainingen en advies










Mind-Spring has developed a good reputation and wide interest at European level through participation in several European conferences such as Opatia 2006, at the international trauma congress. The European Red-Cross in Brussels invited Mind-Spring to present its methodology and activities through a lecture and workshop for different interested organisations. As a result, 12 organisations from different countries showed interest in implementing Mind-Spring and were invited to meet and discuss the realisation. Now in 2012 Mind-Spring is a running program in Belgium; Danmark; the Netherlands; Burundi and Sierra Leone.

All partners in the project operate in the field of refugees and asylum seekers. However, as experienced in different workshops at different conferences, addressing the same target group does not automatically conclude in similar ideas and methodologies. Despite the CEAS process, there are still many contextual differences, such as reception conditions, between European Member States. This fact needs to be acknowledged and the project can serve as a network in which knowledge on this topic can be shared, and to gain information on the minimum adjustments that need to be made to a country-specific methodology as Mind-Spring in order to make it applicable transnationally.

The transnational character of this application will contribute to lessons learned; information sharing and exchange regarding the methodology and implementation. While the psycho-education programme is well-established, other themes and trainings for parenting support, migrants and unaccompanied minors are still under construction and may be included later on. After implementation of the Mind-Spring project, transnational exchange may therefore continue regarding such new themes.

effectivityIn 2010 the Mind-Spring program received a good practice label of the RIVM the Dutch organisation of public health.

Mind-Spring program can also be marked as a good practice according to criteria of Charles Watters:

  1. Access and entitlement beneficiaries must have access to the groups and training, which Mind-Spring succeeded to achieve in the Netherlands by reaching over 800 beneficiaries, and more than 150 trained trainers;

  2. Participation of beneficiaries the concept of mind-spring is cooperation between beneficiaries and professionals;

  3. Holistic prevention project Mind-spring makes use of cognitive and educational theories as well as the cultural specific approach from every culture;

  4. Interagency collaboration is very important within the Mind-Spring methodology which includes beneficiaries, MH professionals and intermediaries and there capacity to work together;

  5. Cultural sensitivity The use of trainers who share and use the same cultural background and language as the beneficiaries reflects the cultural aspects of the content and approach;

  6. Evaluation There is a monitor and evaluation system. The concept is adjusted to needs during the 7 years of working together in the project.

Psycho-education has proven to be an effective prevention method. During the past 7 years, Mind-Spring has improved its methodology through project cycle management, evaluation by practitioners and professionals, evaluation by beneficiaries (asylum seekers and refugees). The enthusiastic responses and positive results have contributed to its national dissemination and advocacy and integration in existing structures such as the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers in the Netherlands (COA) and Menzis/VGZ insurance companies, who have acknowledged the importance of Mind-Spring for asylum seeker centre in the Netherlands and finally to its inclusion in the budget for asylum seekers and refugees by national (health) insurance companies and municipalities. Therefore, the Dutch model of Mind-Spring fulfils a need in society and demonstrates that existing structures are willing to adopt the program, which proves its sustainability.

For this project to have similar impact and be sustainability in other European countries and transnationally, contextual factors will need to be taken into account. Ownership by the different partners, but also exchange of knowledge between different project-sites will be important. The expert meetings are an important element of exchange and there is a possibility to establish these meetings in a broader platform with coordination by one of the partners. The Dutch partner Mind-Spring foundation will seek funds to start an international platform of exchanging experiences with partners.  Such a Platform could motivate the transnational exchange of methodology between partners from different countries within the EU and open doors to cooperation on new themes and trainings for parenting support, migrants and unaccompanied minors, etc.

Now november 2012 a platform to start a "Mind-Spring junior" is in a startup phase with belgium (Odice, Danmark (RedCross an Holland the Mind-Spring foundation). 

The Mind-Spring methodology is very useful for dissemination to other countries, taking into account that certain country-specific adjustments need to be made. Like in the Netherlands, in many European countries the beneficiaries are composed of some major cultural groups. Where the Dutch Mind-Spring team has started with developing readers for Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis and Iranians, other groups may be included with the involvement of other countries. The Project aims to contribute to the European process of synchronizing structures of reception, integration and care for asylum seekers and refugees will also contribute to its sustainability.