THUNDER BAY -- A series of surveys issued by Paro Centre for Women’s Enterprise throughout, and after, the COVID pandemic asked what mental health challenges women entrepreneurs experienced and how it impacted their business.
The responses garnered by the surveys highlighted an “alarmingly high” need for immediate crisis and peer support for family caregivers.
Paro founder and chief executive officer Rosalind Lockyer said the surveys found that women entrepreneurs found emotional and mental well-being and lack of support for mental health were among the most challenging concerns. She pointed out the difficulties of juggling countless responsibilities including childcare, elder care, home life, being online, trying to grow and reimagine their business, getting online with their business and learning new things.
“Throughout the years, Paro has always supported the whole woman,” Lockyer told The Chronicle-Journal. “Paro women have let us know that mental health is a priority for them; the issues that are important to enterprising women are priorities for Paro.”
Paro recently hosted Women Entrepreneurs and Mental Health, a roundtable conversation with 18 in-person local women entrepreneurs and eight online women entrepreneurs in other parts of Ontario.
Melissa Cook, Paro’s program manager, explained that during the roundtable at the Delta Hotel, a series of questions focused on the mental health challenges women entrepreneurs experience.
“We included time to explore how community economic development organizations like Paro and levels of government can better support women in the entrepreneurial space,” said Cook. “There were also questions around gaps that could be filled by amending existing or creating new policies at a government level.”
Cook said Paro received funding through the Government of Canada, Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) program in 2023, which is aimed at advancing equality for women in Canada’s economic, social, and political life. The WAGE program supports Paro to build a system of support for women entrepreneurs Cook said.
“Paro used the funding to research the impacts of mental health and wellness on women entrepreneurs,” she said. “Addressing mental health concerns among female entrepreneurs is essential. Resources like mental health support, access to networks and mentorship, stress management techniques, and work-life balance advocacy can significantly help mitigate these challenges.”
Cook noted that the goal of the research is to create adequate opportunities that address barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. The collected information will help increase awareness effectively in future strategic plans and programming.
Paro has created a new survey asking for insight from women entrepreneurs about the challenges they face that impact overall mental wellness, and the availability of resources. The survey and the roundtable are all part of the ongoing mental health research by Paro and were made possible by the WAGE funding.
Visit www.paro.ca to access the survey and learn more about available resources and Paro programs.
The Chronicle-Journal / Local Journalism Initiative