New mums suffering from mental illness have been given much needed support in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, thanks to a local charity and funding from Lions Australia.
New mums and dads can be hesitant to publicly admit that “parenthood isn’t always peachy” but for a small charity based in the Brisbane suburb of Stafford, acknowledging this is giving parents much needed support.
Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness holds weekly support groups for expecting and new mums who are suffering from perinatal mental illness during pregnancy and after childbirth.
According to Beyond Blue, nine per cent of women suffer from depression during pregnancy while almost 16 per cent develop postnatal depression. Other perinatal mental health issues include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis.
“Attending a mainstream mothers group or playgroup when you are mentally unwell can be a confronting and intimidating experience,” says the charity’s co-founder and CEO, Vivianne Kissane. “We create a safe space where mothers can be more open about the reality of their parenting experience, without the fear of being judged, and instead receive understanding and support.”
A group of eight mums attend every week. They’re aged between 30 and 40 and have children under the age of five. Angela* is one of the women who attends regularly. “The shame that I carried with me about my illness was so pervasive I didn’t think it would ever leave me,” she says. “It was only once I started coming to Peach Tree that I realised I wasn’t alone. I found the groups comforting and reassuring.”
Peach Tree relies entirely on fundraising and donations, and a $1000 Community 100 grant from the Lions Club of Golden Valley Keperra has gone a long way towards covering the costs of running the Stafford group over the past 12 months.
“Peach Tree stands out because the charity helps mothers with small children,” says club membership chairperson, Paul Ryan. “We think that assistance in this area is particularly needed as mothers need support after the birth of a child in a relaxed and social format – a place where they don’t feel guilty for not coping.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Peach Tree attendee Janet*. “Being able to share honestly how I was feeling, particularly in the early months, and not having to pretend that motherhood was the best thing that ever happened to me, made me feel less alone,” she says. “The Peach Tree community get where you are coming from and their understanding and support makes the load feel that much lighter.”