Jordan Corcoran felt relief for the first time in his life after hearing the news.
At 19, he was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. After years of battling mental illness, she was able to take her first step to finding help.
“Asking for help is not a weakness. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed,” she said.
Corcoran shared his story Wednesday morning in front of 175 11th and 12th graders at Springdale Junior-Senior High School. She gave a series of presentations throughout the week to students in grades five and up.
The interactive presentation gave students the opportunity to learn more about mental health issues and how to help those who are struggling. His presentation included discussions on bullying; coping techniques; negative words used to describe people with mental illnesses; and an activity called Crossing the Line, where students stepped forward if Corcoran made a general statement that resonated with them.
She has presented the program at many schools in the Pittsburgh area, including North Hills High School, her alma mater. It was the first time she had brought it to the Allegheny Valley School District.
“It’s okay if you don’t relate to my story. It’s not for everyone, but one thing we can all agree on is that at some point in our lives we struggled,” she said.
Her diagnosis paved the way for Corcoran to create the “Listen, Lucy” platform in 2013. The idea began as an anonymous online outlet for people to write and share their own mental illness treatment stories. . As technology has evolved, Corcoran has strived to make its platform both an online and in-person presence.
A year later, Corcoran began traveling across the country to tell his story and help provide resources to school students. His work extends to delivering workshops to district teachers, parents and company employees. She has written three books focusing on mental health. She recently announced her fourth book, a children’s book, titled “Little Lucy’s Bullies” which will be released on September 12.
“These issues are more prevalent than ever,” she said. “Often children are not validated in how they feel. Sometimes that validation is what they need to take their first step.
Danielle Britton, a social worker with the Allegheny Valley School District, organized the presentation after seeing social media posts of Corcoran speaking in other school districts before the pandemic. Once things settled down and the school district returned to in-person classes, Britton spoke with Corcoran about speaking to Allegheny Valley students.
Britton said the Crossing the Line activity showed her that there were students she didn’t know were struggling.
“It further proves why it’s important to have a conversation like this for those who may or may not have realized they needed help,” she said.
Becky Dyer, a high school guidance counselor, said there has been an increase in social anxiety since returning to school during the pandemic.
She and Britton have made themselves more visible and available to talk to students, whether in groups or in their offices having lunch together.
The students were isolated for a while, so coming back as a group raised more anxiety, Dyer said.
“Sometimes they will seek each other out once they know someone else is going through it as well,” she said.
Corcoran said it has been a privilege to help normalize the stigma around mental health and to help those who struggle. Its focus has recently shifted to providing free and accessible coping techniques to participants.
“I asked a few students to hang back and tell me that they felt understood for the first time in a long time,” she said. “It didn’t seem normal until they had a conversation with me. It’s the coolest thing in the world to be able to do that.