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Self-love campaign spotlights importance of mental health: 'Confidence is cool'

People are sharing what they love about themselves on social media as part of an inspiring campaign to promote self-love and acceptance.
/ Source: TODAY

People are sharing what they love about themselves on social media as part of an inspiring campaign to promote self-love and acceptance.

From "my freckles" to "my kindness for others," responses range from the lighthearted to the deeply personal, as people write the traits that make them unique on their hands and post the photos online, taking part in what's being called "the acceptance movement."

Jordan Corcoran, founder of a group called Listen, Lucy, started the campaign with the belief that "your first true love should be yourself," she told TODAY.

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"I think sometimes confidence is seen as cocky, or something that's negative," she said. "But being secure with yourself and who you are is something that everyone should strive to be."

Listen, Lucy is an anonymous, online outlet for people to share their stories about insecurity "without fear of negativity," said Corcoran, who lives in Pittsburgh. She founded the organization in April 2013, inspired by her own mental illness, with the aim of providing a safe space for other people to discuss mental health.

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"When I was a freshman in college, I was kind of living in this chaotic nightmare," she said. "I was having panic attacks daily, losing a lot of weight — I was taken to the hospital. It was a lot of drama, and on top of it, it was my first time being away from home. It was a really difficult time for me."

Corcoran, now 28, was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, she said. When she wrote a story about what she was dealing with for her college newspaper, she realized how much talking — or writing — about it really helped her cope.

"I got so much positive feedback from people who couldn't believe I shared my story, and how brave I was," she said. "It led me to think, there have to be other people who need to share their stories, too."

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Corcoran added, "Even as more young people come out and speak about mental illness, there's still a stigma around it."

It's a common problem, even if it's hard to pinpoint: Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental disorders, but only about half receive treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"I was trying to hone in on the different conversations I wanted to start with Listen, Lucy, and I just kept coming back to this message of acceptance," Corcoran said.

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That's why she's encouraging people to think about self-love for the month of February, and share what they love about themselves on social media, using the hashtags #ListenLucySelfLove and #TheAcceptanceMovement. Corcoran is thrilled to read all the responses, like "my energy" and "my ability to find a silver lining," for example.

Each one is a step toward self-acceptance, she explained. Plus, "confidence is cool," said Corcoran.