Vivianne Kissane is no stranger to pain. After losing her sister-in-law to perinatal mental illness then suffering post natal depression herself, she is acutely aware that many women who experience anxiety during the perinatal period hide their true feelings from family or friends.
“What should be a joyous time for many women is instead an overwhelming period of sadness, anger or fear,” says Vivianne, co-founder of Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness, a local Brisbane-based charity.
“Admitting you are not enjoying motherhood, or that you haven’t bonded with your baby, is still a social taboo,” she says, “yet, it is estimated that one in six new mothers suffer from some form of perinatal mental illness.
“We need to be educating new mothers that there is no shame to this illness, and they won’t be judged for asking for help.”
Trekking through it
As many people who have had a mental illness can attest, recovery can be a very long journey; even more so when there is a new baby and family involved.
And with a long trek in mind, Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness recently undertook their 22km trek to help raise community awareness of perinatal mental illness, including ante and postnatal anxiety and depression.
“Part of our reason for hosting the Peach Tree Trek is to raise awareness about the support currently available for mothers and their families,” Vivianne says. “Access to the right kind of support is vital when mothers are at their most vulnerable – it literally can mean the difference between life and death.”
Peach Tree also provides midwife education classes in partnership with maternity hospitals and PEPP Talks (Preparing Emotionally for the Perinatal Period) to antenatal education providers and expecting parents.
Being a not-for-profit and volunteer-led organisation, Peach Tree must fundraise to provide these services.
If you need help, just need to talk to someone or can help/volunteer, please visit the Peach Tree website for contact details – here.