A support in loneliness

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

During the pandemic, Meleknur Alevcan has helped hundreds of elderly people with free online therapy. She moved here to study and stayed thanks to the calm and the beautiful winter.

When Covid-19 came to Norrbotten, Meleknur Alevcan, 31, worked as a CBT therapist in community psychiatry. She met many people and saw an increase in mental illness among the elderly.

– Many older people have felt very lonely and suffered from depression and anxiety. I felt I could help, I had time after work on evenings and weekends, she says.

She made a couple of posts in groups like “It Happens in Boden” on Facebook and searched for people who were interested. When the press lifted the commitment, bookings began to flow in seriously.

– Many felt good already after two or three conversations and I received very positive feedback. They appreciated that someone called and asked how they were doing and provided practical tools and help. When I saw the success, I got the motivation to continue, it feels meaningful, says Meleknur.

Since the start a year ago, she has helped over 100 people. The majority live in Sweden, a third in Turkey and a couple in Russia and the United States. All therapy takes place online, such as video calls via, for example, Facetime or Skype, in four different languages that Meleknur is fluent in.

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Praised by the university

For this, Meleknur was named Alumnus of the Year 2020 by Luleå University of Technology (LTU), an award given to former students who have achieved particularly great success in their careers.

– It felt very honoring, it was a positive surprise and I was proud and happy that someone appreciates what I do. I hope I can inspire others to make a positive change, says Meleknur.

LTU is also an important reason why she ended up here in Boden. Meleknur was born in Istanbul and received her first university education in Ankara, where she studied Russian for five years. She was a top student and was therefore awarded a scholarship to study abroad, exactly where she wanted. And she wanted to change course and study psychology in Sweden. In 2013, she moved to Gothenburg and began learning Swedish.

– It went very well, I like the Swedish language a lot because it is so melodic. It’s so nice to listen to. Then I wanted to experience the northern lights, real winters and winter sports and it sounded adventurous to live in northern Sweden.

Thrives in Norrbotten

So within a year, she jumped on the psychology program at LTU. She was the only one in the class who did not have Swedish as her mother tongue, but it went well and she received good support from classmates and teachers. She completed one year of her education at the State University of New York and she took her master’s degree in psychology in the summer of 2020. She thrives so well here that she has stayed to work and now lives in central Boden with her partner.

– It is calm, safe and harmonious. Here you do not stress as much as in big cities. And snow

-I also love snow. Here you can ski and enjoy nature, listen to yourself and walk in the woods. And there are such fantastic and nice people here.

She has no plans to move from here. She recently got a new job at the Police Authority as a civilian investigator of crimes in close relationships and sexual crimes against children.

– It is tough, but it feels great that there is an opportunity to influence the lives of the vulnerable in a positive direction, in an effective way. It’s exciting, I love the job.

In addition to her employment, she runs her own company with a focus on cognitive behavioral therapy and consulting for companies and organizations. And so she continues to provide free therapy. #

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