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Mental Health Symptoms of Amateur Association Football Referees: A Cross-Sectional Study

Yavuz Lima, Sergen Devran, Tom Webb, and Bülent Bayraktar

Although referees who officiate in the amateur football leagues are exposed to various stressors that can negatively affect their mental health (MH), little is known about their MH symptoms. The purpose of the study was to evaluate MH symptoms of referees who officiate in the Turkish amateur football leagues. An online survey was sent to all referees in the Turkish amateur football leagues (n = 4,900) incorporating standardized scales assessing depression, anxiety, and stress. A total of 1,279 referees participated in the study. Female referees reported higher depression (p < .01) and anxiety (p = .02) scores than males. Younger referees (23–27 years) reported higher depression (p = .01) and anxiety (p < .01) scores than older (>38 years) referees. Results showed that symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress scores were associated with marital status (being single), lower incomes, severe sports injury history, and inadequate social support. In light of these results, MH assessments should be undertaken to detect which referees are at greater risk of MH problems and facilitate appropriate and timely MH interventions. Further study is needed to inform MH risk reduction strategies and/or programming.