Our stories: Offering new parents a ray of sunshine

Each month in Our stories, we’re presenting a snapshot of services based off the perspectives of both service users and service providers.

This month’s service profile focuses on the Sunshine Parenting Program (SPP), a six-week postnatal wellbeing program for mothers who are struggling with their mental health, run by Brisbane’s Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness Inc.

SPP was designed by two Brisbane mums, Viv Kissane and Rani Farmer who both have first-hand experience of perinatal challenges. Viv’s experiences with perinatal mental illness encouraged her to establish Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness Inc in 2011.

‘I’m the mother of three children, and I experienced firsthand the devastating impact of perinatal mental illness,’ said Viv. ‘I was determined to offer other parents the support I wish I’d had. I established Peach Tree to provide compassionate, peer-led services and education.’

‘Our home here at Peach Tree House is like a parent wellbeing centre,’ said Viv.

‘We offer peer-support programs, education, and social-inclusion activities like yoga, music and art. Most of our staff are volunteers and the majority of our services are free. It’s a friendly, welcoming and nonjudgemental space for parents and babies.’

SPP is delivered across six sessions by peer-support workers. The first and last sessions involve individual discussions and one-on-one support with the SPP program manager and a psychologist. SPP is an earlyintervention program for parents who are doing it tough but who may not have a diagnosis of mental illness. It’s designed to build emotional resilience and promote self-care.

‘We don’t require our participants to have a diagnosed condition or a formal referral from a GP,’ said Rani. ‘This isn’t a diagnostic program with clinical assessments and outcomes. It’s an empathic environment designed to promote emotional wellness and parenting confidence.’

Rani is convinced that SPP is having a positive impact on the lives of mothers. ‘It might sound a bit corny, but I really do believe this program can bring a little ray of sunshine into parents’ lives, right when they need it most’.

The program in a nutshell

Name: Sunshine Parenting Program
Provider: Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness Inc
Service type: Brief therapy, community-based peer education for parents experiencing postnatal mental health challenges
Service duration: Six-week program that includes four group sessions and two individual sessions with a psychologist