Mental health for all

Mental health for all

< Back to Articles | Topics: Member Profile | This is a guest post from Esinam Counselling Inc.
(Member since 2022) | Published: April 4, 2023

This is a guest post from Esinam Counselling Inc.
(Member since 2022)

Stacy Darku, of Esinam Counselling, on how her own life experiences have helped inform her work with typically underserved communities

As a child of immigrant Ghanian parents, first-generation Canadian, Stacy Darku, knows better than most the challenges that come with that equation.

The native New Brunswicker — hailing from Saint John — is a recent transplant to Halifax, arriving in the summer of 2022 after spending three years calling the Annapolis Valley home.

Once in Halifax, the registered counselling therapist candidate hung out her shingle, and Esinam Counselling Inc., which she started in 2021 — providing virtual sessions at her kitchen table — was officially open for in-person business.

Named after her late sister, Mercy Esinam Darku, she says she was initially surprised at the lack of therapists of colour in the province.

The desire to work in the field of mental health, Darku says, came from an early work experience.

“I have always had a desire to be in the mental health field. My first job was working at an emergency shelter with women who were struggling,” she says.

The loss of her sister to mental health issues, she adds, only fueled her desire to work in the field, noting that it made her “motivated to help the community more than ever.”

Darku, no stranger to racism and discrimination, says that that has proven to be both a challenge as well as a strength in terms of her practice and the people she helps.

“One of the biggest challenges I had while opening this practice was finding the funds and resources to grow. Another challenge was the discrimination that I received from various organizations, stakeholders, and others in the field, which was obviously quite disheartening,” she says.

The flip side of that coin, Darku says, is the ability her life-lived experiences give her as she works on mental health issues with an often underserved community: specifically, people of colour, and children of immigrants, who often face a steep climb when it comes to keeping a foot in two worlds – that of their culture and heritage, and that of everyday life in this country.

“People of colour feel comfortable with someone who will understand their issues from the outset. That way we can bypass a lot and just focus on the trauma work from the start,” she says.

In terms of advice for employers and leaders looking to prioritize mental health in the workplace, Darku is straight and to the point: look at mental health the same way you’d approach any other health issue.

“Individuals are good at recognizing if their teeth hurt, for example, and go to the dentist to resolve the problem. This should be how people look at their mental health because the impact of not addressing your mental health could result in an unhealthy relationship with not only yourself, but with the people around you,” she says.

From her days of Zooming from her kitchen table, to a brick-and-mortar building in Lower Sackville, Darku is pleased with how far she’s come, having treated over 150 individuals and currently also providing counselling services and training to government agencies. Future plans include developing a partnership with Empowerment for Hope to engage in more community initiatives and offering Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which will help provide individuals with trauma healing in as little as five sessions.

You can find Esinam Counselling Inc. at:

< Back to Articles | Topics: Member Profile

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