verybody struggles with their mental health at some point or another.

Mental health is just like physical health -- it isn't something you deal with once and then forget about, it's something that you have to actively work on throughout your life.

And sometimes it’s definitely easier than others.

Anyone who has ever struggled with their mental health (or loved someone who has struggled with their mental health) knows just how difficult it can be to make mental health priority and how transformative getting through a difficult time can be.

Your mental health is a part of you… so why not make it a part of your body art, too?

People choose to get mental health tattoos for countless reasons -- because they overcame something, because they’re still struggling (and that’s ok), as a daily reminder or affirmation, and even more personal reasons. If you’re considering a mental health tattoo but need some inspiration, don’t worry -- you’re in the right place. We’ll take you through some common symbols in mental health tattoos, and then show you some of the coolest mental health tattoos we’ve seen recently, including:

  • Semicolon tattoos
  • Butterfly tattoos
  • Science-inspired mental health tattoos
  • Artsy mental health tattoos
  • Minimalist mental health tattoos
  • Stylized mental health tattoos
  • Uplifting yellow mental health tattoos
  • Colorful mental health tattoos
  • Brain tattoos
  • Funny mental health tattoos
  • Pop culture / characters
  • Lotus flower tattoos
  • Kintsugi tattoos
  • Anchor tattoos
  • Mental health advocacy tattoos

Let’s get started!

Note: We scoured Instagram to find some awesome mental health tattoos -- if you like what you see, definitely click through the links and explore other work from the tattoo artists and shops tagged!!

tattoo artist giving someone a mental health tattoo
There are lots of ways to go with a mental health tattoo -- finding one that fits your style and resonates with you can take some worth, but it'll be worth it when you have an amazing tattoo to show off.

Common Symbols + Motifs in Mental Health Tattoos

If you’re searching for mental health tattoo inspiration, chances are you’ve come across some common themes in your research. Semicolons? Butterflies? Ribbons? These are just a few of the symbols people often use to symbolize their mental health journey.

We’ve put together some background information on some of the common meanings of mental health tattoos you’ll see on this list and elsewhere around the internet:

  • Semicolon. Represents where a story could have ended, but it didn’t.
  • Butterfly. Represents transformation and growth.
  • Lotus flower. Lotus flowers grow in muck and mud but still have beautiful blooms.
  • Sunflower. Represent hope and brighter times ahead. They’re also associated with artist Vincent Van Gogh, who famously struggled with his mental health.
  • Serotonin. Neurotransmitter associated with happiness.
  • Phoenix. Immortal mythical creature that cyclically destroys itself and rises from the ashes to regenerate.
  • Kintsugi. Japanese practice of mending broken pottery with gold. Rather than trying to hide or cover up the cracks, which could be considered imperfections, kintsugi turns those scars into something beautiful.
  • Green ribbon. Represents mental health awareness.
  • Anchor. Represents remaining grounded during life’s storms.

Semicolon Tattoos (and Some Creative Variations)

1. The classic, stand-alone semicolon tattoo

A simple tattoo to commemorate where a story could have ended, but didn't -- whether that's your story or someone you care about's.

2. Semicolon reminder or affirmation

Affirmations can be powerful, so what could be more powerful than getting a permanent reminder of who you are and what you can do tattooed on your body?

3. Matching semicolon butterflies

4. Go abstract with a semicolon that's hidden in a larger piece

5. A positive message in negative space

6. Semicolon lotus flower

7. Include a semicolon in a tribute to the music that helps you get through tough days

8. Or to a furry friend who's been by your side through good times and bad

Depression is often referred to as a "black dog," but man's best friend can actually play a big role in helping people heal. Whether your emotional support animal is furry, fuzzy, feathery, or scaly, you could incorporate them into your semicolon tattoo design like these cool concepts from Epona Tattoo Sanctuary.

Butterfly Tattoos (and Some Creative Variations)

9. Simple but beautiful

10. Free as a butterfly

Butterflies are seen as symbols of freedom and change, so why not free your butterfly tattoo from hard lines? Consider a line work-free art style like this to give your tattoo some unique flair.

11. Plants and butterflies = growth and change

12.  Nostalgic

Words of Affirmation + Reminders

13. I am, I am, I am

You don't have to be a literature buff to appreciate the simplicity of this quote from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Managing your mental health can be complicated. It can be messy. And when things are overwhelming, it might help to take a deep breath, feel your pulse jumping beneath your skin, and remember that you are here, and that is enough.

14. I am enough

15. It gets better

16. Mental health matters

17. Everything will be okay

18. You are the person that needs you the most

Sometimes self care looks like setting healthy boundaries. If you struggle trying to be there for everyone else, this affirmation might resonate with you -- it's okay to put yourself first. You need yourself, too.

19. A line from your favorite book

20. Or song

21. Or movie

22. Chin up

23. Claim a new mantra

Sophrosyne. (n.) a healthy state of mind, characterised by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness

Science-Inspired Mental Health Tattoos

24. Serotonin molecule

25. Watercolor serotonin

26. Sipping on some serotonin

27. Serotonin in the Stars

Artsy Mental Health Tattoos

28. An surrealist sleeve Dali would be proud of

29. Cool geometric overlays

30. Surreal mental states

31. Body positivity is an abstract concept

32. Minimalist phoenix

33. Pop art tattoo

34. Rep Frida Khalo

Many people know Frida Khalo for her colorful artwork, but do you know her story? Frida Khalo famously struggled with her physical and mental health throughout her life.

35. Van Gogh for it

Personal Mental Health Tatoos

37. Your own art

38. Or a loved one’s art

39. Or a message of encouragement in their handwriting

40. Honor those who have loved or inspired you, commemorate a loved one as part of the grieving process

Minimalist Mental Health Tatoos

41. Fell down, got up tally

42. Emotional emoticon

43. Give yourself time

44. I am greater than my highs and lows

45. Half full? Half empty? Leave it open to interpretation

46. Anxiety line drawing

47. Draw power from these Icelandic staves

48. DSM diagnostic code

Stylized Mental Health Tattoos

49. Take off the mask with a traditional style tattoo

50. Tim Burton-esque horrors

51. Something a little Pink Floyd

52. Halo effect

53. Rainy maiden

54. Cerberus has his good days and bad days, too

55. Where Sailor Tattoos Meet MCR

Sunny Yellow Mental Health Tattoos

56. Positive growth

57. Sunflower inspired growth mindset

58. Sunny butterfly

59. Put the focus on brighter times ahead

60. Realistic sunflower

61. Sunflower affirmation

62. Matching tattoo with your sunshine

Colorful Mental Health Tattoos

63. Social inspired

64. Represent highs and lows

65. A colorful phoenix

66. Inspire yourself with some superhuman strength

67. Progress isn’t linear

Brain Tattoos

68. Keep it textbook

69. Kintsugi brain

70. Have a growth mindset

71. Mind over matter

72. Rainy brain sleeve

Characters for Mental Health Tattoos

73. Joker

74. Scary monsters

75. Inside Out

76. Black Swan

Show off your sense of humor

77. Broken brain

78. Fuck you, sadness

Sometimes life is tough. There doesn’t have to be anything elegant or beautiful about your battle for mental health. Sometimes it’s just annoying. Any when you're annoyed with your mental health, this might be the tattoo for you.

79. Put a bandaid on it

No, you can’t just stick a bandaid on your mental health and wait for it to get better, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could? Healing is a process.

80.  Fight for it

81. Mr. Serotonin Man

82. Because emotions aren’t always straightforward

83. Repurposed pill bottles

Lotus Flower Tattoos

84. Lotus flower line art

85. Lotus in bloom

86. Lotus snake tattoo

Kintsugi Tattoos

87. Kintsugi heart

88. Kintsugi phoenix

89. Kintsugi sleeve

90. Cross body kintsugi

91. Kintsugi blackout tattoo

Anchor Tattoos

92. Old School Anchor tattoo

93. Fine line anchor tattoo

94. Keep on sailing

Tattoos That Spread Mental Health Awareness

95. Classic green ribbon

96. Simple green ribbon

97. Support a mental health organization

98. Share a resource

99. Speak up tattoo

So what do you think?

There you have it -- plenty of mental health tattoo inspiration to get you started. Did any of these spark another idea? Or do you have some awesome mental health ink you want to show off? Let us know in the comments!

Nov 29, 2021