Rising Mental Health Risks Fuel 38% Surge in Social Security Benefits in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil – The Social Security Ministry in Brazil has reported a 38 percent increase in the number of sick pay and retirement benefits due to mental and behavioral disorders last year, reaching a total of 288,865. This surge surpasses the volume seen in 2021 during the height of the Covid pandemic.

According to a survey conducted by Pipo Saúde, a startup that assists companies in finding the best health plans and services, 48 percent of workers are at “mental health risk,” which includes the potential for generalized anxiety disorder or depression. Additionally, 44 percent of workers reported suffering from insomnia.

Thiago Liguori, Chief Medical Officer of Pipo Saúde, suggested that one factor contributing to the increase in social security benefits linked to mental illnesses may be the reduction of stigma surrounding them during the pandemic. This reduction in stigma may have led more workers to feel comfortable communicating their issues to companies and seeking their rights.

With the startup serving companies in sectors such as technology, retail, and consumer goods, increasing stress levels and psychological insecurity have been noticed, linked to factors such as more frequent layoffs in the technology sector and greater pressure for productivity.

The number of sick pay and retirements may continue to rise in 2024 due to regulatory updates. The Health Ministry recently added 165 pathologies to the list of diseases that can cause damage to a worker’s physical or mental integrity. Burnout, a work-related disorder, in addition to some types of cancer, are among the new diseases included in the list. This regulatory update may lead to a further increase in the number of benefits due to mental and behavioral disorders.