PARO Centre for Women Complete Mental Health Research Study
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PARO Centre for Women Complete Mental Health Research Study

by Scott A. Sumner

PARO recently completed research on the mental health of women entrepreneurs and theh results are on the PARO website. It was also presented at their International Women's Day event in North Bay as well as reported in national publications such as the Toronto Star.


“ People are really interested as they realize the impact of the pandemic was huge in many ways and one of them was the impact on mental health for women.That was primarily because of the extra load they had to play with family. Also the kinds of businesses and work they do primarily are in the service industry which meant they had to close up quite often. There was also an increase in domestic violence because of the extra stress and being together more than usual. All together this has huge impact. I do think governments are aware of this.” said Rosalind Lockyer, Executive Director PARO

PARO works in many rural communities where there aren't a lot of services available in mental health and is one of the challenges in supporting women entrepreneurs in smaller areas. PARO does not supply support for mental health but are interested and have partners working in these areas.

“ My personal impression of the results of the research was that many of the things found have always been there and members agree. What has happened now is it has escalated with other factors that are weighing heavily. Everyone needed a break after COVID but we didn't get a break, but keep on working and living with the fallout of the pandemic. Right now as well all the rising costs is another stress,” said Ros. “ When you are trying to build up your business again after the pandemic that takes time.You don't just start up a business and make a living from it immediately- you have to build up customers, connections, knowledge and experience. Some businesses did better but for many women they weren't in those type of businesses. Some smaller businesses received little support. We are still transitioning and need an increase in services to support people.”

PARO is going well!

“ We have a vibrant team and are working just as much as we ever have in Northern Ontario as well as all over Ontario and in seven provinces. We don't do the same things in all of the provinces. Across Ontario we provide various kinds of training to meet the needs of women they say they have as we constantly survey them.”

PARO has different kinds of funding available- One is with our peer circle network- they now call them prosper circles and are setting them up across the country. These circles are essential in providing sustainable livelihood. They look at the circles from a wholistic approach- at building a good life for you.You need to have energy and know what you want out of life, have good connections for support including both family friends and business as you live life. You need physical support like a laptop, phone, internet and food, exercise etc. On top of that you need training which always changing.That keeps you alive and happy.You also need money.

They say with peer support you are 7 times more likely to succeed and sustain. PARO have over 250 Peer Support groups now with 4 to 7 people in each circle and have been doing this for 30 years now. PARO has a staff of 41, some being contractors who work some days for PARO.

PARO has many online supports available which worked well during Covid and now many women find it a preferred way in terms of time.

“ We also work with businesses that are doing well and want to scale up to a high level and say sell their products in another country. We have had success in this area. We take groups of women on trade missions with the proper supports while they are there and they see other women being successful. There are big corporations there to connect with as
well.” said Ros.

“ We took 30 women to Denver in March where they were very excited to introduce the women to other businesses to make connections. We have a funding program for taking women on trade missions. Go for the Green is a trade mission that is smaller to start out with and a good one in which to begin.”

“ We also can do loans up to $50,000 with our partners. We are also working hard to get women involved with investors.These things take time and we want to move the needle on that as it is small right now.”

“ I still do have a passion for the job, I learn every day.Women have >so many skills and are interested in what they are doing and working with others.That keeps me inspired.” said Rosalind Lockyer, Executive Director PARO.





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