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!!
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
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
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
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
87. Kintsugi heart
88. Kintsugi phoenix
89. Kintsugi sleeve
90. Cross body kintsugi
91. Kintsugi blackout tattoo
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!