Marty's walked the walk
Chaplain Marty Mann (centre) with school-based trainee Jerome Tkalac and warehouse manager Dan Kropf.
By Paul O'Rourke
Marty Mann’s own mental health battle and long experience in employment services, particularly helping those with health challenges, makes him an ideal workplace chaplain for Loaves and Fishes.
Marty, 48, who is studying for a diploma in counselling, works one-day-a-week as a volunteer chaplain at the Loaves and Fishes warehouse and kitchen in Devonport. He started two weeks ago and his role is likely to expand to extra days.
“At the end of the day, we’re all human beings trying to find our way,” he said.
“I see my role as facilitating conversations that help people on their journey.
“I don’t have the day-to-day responsibilities of a staff member, so I have the time to listen, to show love and a bit of kindness.
“I want to help people without strings attached.”
Stressed to breaking point
Marty’s struggles with anxiety and depression came to a head in 2013 when the perfect storm of events and circumstances led to a breakdown.
“Our organisation had been taken over by Mission Australia and our jobs were uncertain; I was struggling with the demands of being a husband and father to young kids and I was questioning my faith," he said.
“Something in me snapped. I started getting panic attacks, lost the ability to think, and couldn't sleep. I felt like I was having a heart attack.
I had night terrors, suicide ideation. I didn’t want to die; I just wanted the pain to stop.
“It was absolutely horrific.
“It has been a long and arduous journey back, but it’s taught me compassion and understanding.”
Ongoing mental health battle
Marty still battles with significant anxiety and depression, although he now has the strategies when the background noise becomes a roar.
He wants to help others negotiate their particular sets of challenges, be they physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
Marty’s 17 years in employment services also enables him to help staff with career counselling.
Marty said he ultimately left his management position at Mission Australia due to the over reliance on compliance and key performance indicators which resulted in less time for building relationships.
He said he knew of Loaves and Fishes and Devonport Chaplaincy through his employment role.
“I’ve always been impressed with the work and the commitment to relationship through mentoring and chaplaincy,” he said.
“Everyone wakes up every morning wanting to do a good job at work. No one wants to fail.
“However, there are various things, be it health or family challenges or anxiety that get in the way and affect performance and wellbeing.
“We all need help.”