“It feels fantastic! It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I’ve won the prize, but it means a lot to me. I’ve worked long and hard on issues of violence against and vulnerability in children, and I hope that we’ll be able to shed even more light on these questions in the future”, says Erica Mattelin.
The Swedish Psychological Association explained their decision to award Erica Mattelin their 2021 big prize by saying: “Lots of media attention is being paid to society’s failings in protecting children’s rights, their need for good mental health, and access to psychotherapy..."
... “ Erica Mattelin’s combination of practical research, psychotherapy, investigations and teaching give her a depth of knowledge and credibility. This makes a difference for both the children she meets in the treatment room and in research interviews, as well, potentially, as the public authorities and other social actors that will help Sweden to fulfil its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
When we get in touch with Erica Mattelin she is sitting in a car on the way back home to Stockholm – proud and honoured by the prize. And a little relieved that it’s finally official.
“It feels really great this issue has finally been highlighted, and the Association has shown that it thinks the issue is important by giving the prize to somebody who works on it. I hope this will inspire other psychologists to read up on the subject.”
After doing an undergraduate degree in psychology at Uppsala University, Erica Mattelin worked with paediatric psychiatry.
In January 2018, she began a PhD at Barnafrid at LiU. At LiU, she teaches trauma-focussed cognitive behaviour therapy, and works on the research project “The long journey”, which aims to better understand the circumstances and mental health needs of children who arrived in Sweden as refugees. Erica Mattelin felt a strong passion and motivation for her future work as early as her schooldays.
“I think it’s always been a part of me. After finishing school, I went to Romania and helped build a school there. I later worked at a school in [the Swedish municipality of] Eksjö, where I come from. I met lots of children in vulnerable circumstances, and felt that I wanted to do what I could to make a difference.”
And now you’ve been awarded this big psychology prize. How are you going to celebrate?
“I’ve worked really hard these last few years, and sometimes when you’re sitting there working late into the night, you wonder: ‘Is this really worth it?’ Now that I’ve been awarded this prize, I feel happy and proud. I’m hoping to make a night of it and, in spite of restrictions, celebrate with some friends.”
As well as her prize, Erica Mattelin will receive a prize sum of SEK 50,000.