Archbishop of York Joins In College’s Mental Health Programme


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visited Birkenhead Sixth Form College on Thursday and sampled a taster of the College’s unique life-skills programme 

The Archbishop’s visit was part of his ‘Believe in Birkenhead’ mission which encompasses three days of activities in the region that included an afternoon at the biggest sixth form in the area.

Along with a Q & A session with A Level sociology students and a tour of the facilities, the Archbishop took part in a session of the College’s mental health and wellbeing programme, ‘BePART’.

‘BePART’ stands for be positive, ambitious, resilient and thoughtful, and was specially devised by a team of psychology teachers at Birkenhead Sixth Form College to help teenagers deal with the demands of modern living. The programme uses proven methods and scientific research to help all new students with their mental wellbeing, through sessions focused on using gratitude to improve happiness, the importance of sleep and diet, and relaxation techniques.

The Archbishop of York, along with his fellow clergy visitors from local parishes, joined the sixth form students in a tutorial which looked at being thankful for what you have, which research shows can improve a person’s happiness by up to 20%.

After the session, the Archbishop said: “When we grow up as little children and our parents give us something, they teach us to say thank you. It is not just for the sake of saying the words but that it is important to be thankful. We are living in a time where people can just grasp things and take things all the time, so here we are actually reinforcing something that we learn as toddlers that we may have lost as we have grown up.”

On the College’s holistic approach to education through the ‘BePART’ scheme, he said: “For me, I believe that human beings are a spirit inhabiting a body, so you need to make sure that your body is sound, that your mind is clean and that your spirit is fed as well. Without the mind, body and soul in harmony, it will not work. This programme is suggesting that we pay attention to every part of what it is to be human. When we do that, we are more likely to be successful.

“If I take care of my body and do not feed my mind and my spirit, I am only fractionally happy. In this session we heard about sleep, diet, thought; I think it is trying to say to everybody that to be truly human, at the heart of it, is every part working together.”

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop was welcomed to The Birkenhead Park School to meet with students and staff, and will tomorrow be visiting Cammell Laird shipyard.