By Atilla Altuntas
STOCKHOLM (AA) – A Turkish psychologist in Sweden has been recognized for her efforts to help senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meleknur Alevcan, who graduated from the Lulea University of Technology in psychology last year, practices in the city of Lulea.
Since the novel virus outbreak, she started providing complimentary counseling sessions to the elderly online. And on Monday, Alevcan received an honorary award from her alma meter.
“I've been providing free therapy sessions for the last 6-7 months to improve the morale of the elderly, who are more isolated due to coronavirus," she told Anadolu Agency.
“They get surprised that I'm voluntarily serving them, while no one from their families is checking up on them,” Alevcan said, adding that the patients often get teary-eyed.
A native of Istanbul, Alevcan moved to Sweden eight years ago. She also studied in Ankara, and New York.
Currently pursuing her second masters in child and adolescent psychology from the West University in the Nordic country, the psychotherapist said she will continue to help the people as much as she can.
Unlike other European countries, Sweden, a nation of over 10 million, never imposed a nationwide lockdown. Instead, it relied on voluntary measures and recommendations such as avoiding large gatherings and social distancing.
But those over age 70 were told to isolate themselves: avoid physical contact and public transport, and keep away from shops and other public places.
Late last month, however, the guidelines were reversed and the senior citizens were asked to follow the general advice given to all Swedes.
The Scandinavian nation has so far seen 146,461 cases in total and 6,022 virus-related deaths, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara