VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Nominations are now open for six more “Courage To Come Back” Award winners.

One of last year’s recipients is speaking about how the honour has changed her life.

“My life has just bloomed,” says Sandra Yuen McKay, the 2012 winner in the Mental Health Category.

“It’s really neat to be recognized because for so long I felt so self-stigmatized, I blamed myself for my illness.”

Since the gala, she has become one of Lions Society‘s five faces of mental illness and even had her face featured on a bus ad.

McKay says the award has opened new doors for her advocacy work too. “Being part of the experience to go to Ottawa and speak to the Governor General and his wife at Rideau Hall and meet with members of Parliament, speak on Canada AM to advocate about mental illness and to promote mental health.”

After a lifetime of battling schizoaffective disorder, She is proud to emerge on the other side as one of more than 80 Courage To Come Back winners to be recognized since 1999.

“The people that win are really role models for a lot of people.  People who have not just have had a similar experience or a similar adversity as the person who got the award but anybody,” she explains.

“You know, when we think about life and death situations, we think about people who have risen from real depths, from real dark places and come back so strong to help other people.  I think that really shows that these stories need to be heard because I think it inspires and helps so many people to give them courage as well.”

Nominations are open until February 11th.

You can pick up a form at any Scotiabank or do it online.

News1130 is a proud sponsor of the “Courage To Come Back Awards” which will be handed out April 25th.