QAMH Member of the Month – November 2019

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness is our November Member of the Month!

Each month we will be highlighting the value and diversity of our members and the fantastic work they do in the community mental health sector.

Read on below to learn more about Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness, including their history, values and mission. 

Please tell us a little bit about your organisation.

Peach Tree is a community mental health support organisation that specialises in perinatal and infant mental health.  Established in 2011, we now operate “Peach Tree House” in three locations over Brisbane – Geebung, Morayfield and Springwood.  We provide mental health support, parenting education and social inclusion activities for men and women who are in the pregnancy, birth and early parenthood stage of life (0-5 years).

Peach Tree House is building community for parents.  In today’s society, when we have largely “lost the village”, Peach Tree aims to connect parents and build supportive networks to improve social and emotional wellbeing of families.

What are three words to describe your organisation?

Safe, Non-judgmental and Supportive

How/why/when didyour organisationget started?

Peach Tree was established in January 2011, based on the experiences of two mums who had lived experienced perinatal mental illness.  Founder/CEO Viv Kissane experienced postnatal depression after the birth of her third baby, and has also lost a family member to maternal suicide.  From our own experiences, we saw a need and wanted to do something to make a positive impact for the families who were going through this.  Perinatal mental illness can be a very isolating and lonely experience, Peach Tree was initially started to let parents know “if you are going through this, you are not alone, and help is available”.

What inspires your work and what setsyour organisationapart from everyone else?

Peach Tree’s unique point of difference is that we are an entirely peer led organisation.  Which means we have Lived Experience through all levels of our organisation.  We use this lived experience to break down stigma, and to create a very non-judgmental, accepting and safe environment for parents to seek help and support.  Our Lived Experience team includes child buddies, peer support workers, educators and trainers, program managers, researchers, site co-ordinators, operations manager and our CEO.

Our inspiration definitely comes from all the wonderful parents and babies who we work with.  To go through perinatal mental illness, is incredibly hard.  To have mental health challenges while trying to care for an infant and/or parent young children, is extremely challenging. The parents we work with are very vulnerable and often distressed, yet they are the most wonderfully compassionate, giving, strong and courageous people.  We are honoured to hear their stories and share in their recovery journey.

Where does your organisation provide services? What type of services are offered?

Peach Tree provides a range of psychosocial support services:

Mental Health Support:  Peer Support Groups, The Sunshine Parenting Program, PeerZone Wellbeing Workshops, Art therapy.  A range of external consultants also provide private psychological therapies onsite at Peach Tree House Geebung.

Education:   Circle of Security, Motherhood Mood & Food, antenatal PEPP Talks, Becoming Us workshops.

Social Inclusion:  Baby Song Time, Playgroup, Yoga & Mindfulness and other social groups.

Please see attached timetables for full information.  These timetables are also available on our website and are pinned to the top of our Facebook page.

Spotlight on:  The Sunshine Parenting Program

This six week program is fantastic for mothers who might be feeling any of the below:

  • mums who aren’t feeling confident being a mother and are questioning if they are good enough
  • mums who feel like they might not be coping
  • mums who, since having a baby, just haven’t felt the same but don’t know why, and its making them feel sad
  • mums who have been struggling with their relationships since having a baby
  • mums who know they need to take better care of themselves but can’t think clearly how to do this
  • mums who are making themselves feel terrible about the fact they haven’t felt “that amazing rush of love” for their baby and need help feeling more connected to their baby
  • mums who are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, to the point its impacting on things like being able to leave the house, going to mothers groups etc
  • mums who have a diagnosis of postnatal depression and/or anxiety.

This is a completely FREE program. Light lunch provided. Babies very very welcome, and likewise mothers also welcome to attend without babies.

The SPP is a 6-week commitment for mothers with babies aged between 0 and 12 months. The program moves through six (6) workbook topics, all relevant to parenting experiences through the postnatal period, providing a safe, sensitive, and non-judgemental space for mothers to speak openly about their parenting experiences with others who understand. All workshops are facilitated and supported by two (2) Peer Workers who themselves share a lived-experience of perinatal mental health challenges with a story of hope and recovery.

Each week focus on the following chapters:

Week 1:     Welcome to our Circle of Sunshine!

Week 2:     Understanding your experience

Week 3:     Navigating relationships changes

Week 4:     Caring for your baby’s needs

Week 5:     Caring for you IS caring for your family

Week 6:     Connections and Celebrations!
Registration is required through our website.

How many employees do you have? How many offices, and where are they located?

The Peach Tree team consists of approximately 13 Lived Experience workers employed on a part time or casual basis.  Our team is complimented by a wonderful volunteer workforce of approximately 20 members.   We have three sites where we offer services, Geebung (Brisbane North), Morayfield (Moreton Bay) and Springwood (Brisbane South).

 How has your organisation changed over the last few years – and what has driven this change?

We have been fortunate to experience considerable growth in the last two years.  What has driven this change is actually finding a bricks and mortar home for our organisation. 

Peach Tree House is not only a village for our parents who access our services, but is also a place for our team of workers to come together in a productive environment and work towards our goals of supporting vulnerable Brisbane families. 

Peach Tree House is a perinatal and infant health hub, that attracts specialised services to cater for mental health support during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.  Over and above offering Peach Tree’s peer led services, we now have a range of external stakeholders delivering services onsite, including Child Health, perinatal focused psychologists, a perinatal mental health social worker, Sing n Grow Musical Therapy and Aftercare’s “Poppy Centre” delivering child psychological therapies.  Local perinatal specialist services from the Hospital and Health Service also use Peach Tree House to meet with their clients in a welcome and inviting space.

Looking forward, what do you see as the main challenges/opportunities for your organisation, and why?

As with most small not for profits, long term funding continues to be a challenge.  Short term, program based funding provides limitation and restriction over making long term strategic investments in people and services.  Likewise, we envisage demand management will be a challenge for us moving forward as we continue to grow and our services become more well known.

There is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our work of progressing the development of the lived experience workforce.  Building capacity and generating an evidence base of the value of lived experience in the perinatal and infant mental health space, is providing us with opportunity to be innovative leaders.  Peach Tree is unique, being the only entirely Peer Led Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Support Service in Australia.

Tell us something about your organisation that most people wouldn’t know? 

What does Perinatal mean?  Perinatal = antenatal + postnatal periods

1 in 10 expecting mothers (antenatal) and 1 in 5 new mothers (postnatal) will experience depression and/or anxiety.   But this is not an issue exclusive to women.  Having a baby is a major life event, and often a period of extreme adjustment and stress.  1 in 10 new fathers will also experience postnatal depression.

Although postnatal depression is the most well known, “perinatal mental illness” is the umbrella term used to describe any episode of mental illness that occurs during the phase of life encompassing the pregnancy and postnatal periods.  It also includes (but is not limited to) anxiety, PTSD (often triggered by birth trauma), perinatal OCD, bipolar, eating disorders, personality disorders and postpartum psychosis.

Research shows that by providing early mental health interventions to parents, we are improving health outcomes for infants and children.  The first years of life are critical times of growth and development.  Our experiences in our early years are known to impact lifelong physical, cognitive, social and emotional health and wellbeing.  Sometimes, parents experiencing mental health challenges can be challenged with their relationship with their infants and young children.  By working with parents, we can enhance protective factors that improve infant mental health experiences.

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    Phone – (07) 3706 3010