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Opinions of Saturday, 25 January 2014

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

Let us reach out to those under severe stress

Stress in the frenetic-paced world we live in today is unavoidable for most working people. It is also a fact that many young people in our country are dying early deaths from stress-related conditions - such as stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. There is a need for awareness-creation campaigns to get Ghanaians to understand the importance of striking a good work/quality-of-life balance in their lives.

That campaign to get Ghanaians to adopt balanced and healthy lifestyles could be taken up by the media in Ghana - as a collective effort to help prevent preventable deaths: such as the tragic demise of Komla Dumor in faraway London. It is clear from the messages that he is said to have sent to some of his former colleagues at Joy FM, that Komla Dumor was under tremendous stress and overworking himself.

In our determination to be successful individuals, we must not sacrifice our health on the high-alter-of-achievement, regardless of the cost to our personal well-being. The wise old Akan saying, "Onipa ebeyebi, na wanbeye ninyinaa", is something that must guide each one of us. Alas, the world will not stop when we die - and since we are not indispensable beings in the overall scheme of things, we will be quickly replaced, were we to die in harness.

We must all learn to ask for help when we are unable to cope with the stress we come under, when executing tasks assigned to us at work. It is neither a sign of weakness, nor failure, to seek help in managing work-related stress. Perhaps Komla Dumor would still be alive today, if he had been advised to put his health and personal well-being ahead of carrying out assignments for the BBC World Service, even when he was at the point of complete exhaustion physically.

Above all, we must reach out to others, when we sense that they might be under severe stress, and need help in coping. Having seen what it can lead to, in the case of Komla Dumor, we could actually be saving someone from certain death, by so doing.