Mental Health Tattoos: 16 of Our Favorite Designs (2023)

by Bridget Reed

Tattoos have always held power and meaning beyond ink on the skin. Indicating rank or status in a community, membership in a group, giving a visual representation of an internal state, to pure aesthetics; the reasons we apply ink to our skin are endless.

Meanwhile, mental health and mental health awareness have increasingly moved from a taboo to a part of our everyday conversation. For the many among us who have struggled with mental health issues, a tattoo can offer strength, raise awareness, and demonstrate solidarity with others moving forward.

Variations are plentiful, but here are some of our favorite mental health tattoo designs for self-care and self-love.

1. Butterfly

The classic butterfly tattoo is more than just a pretty design. A butterfly begins its life as a caterpillar before metamorphosing into its final form as a vibrant and beautiful creature capable of flight.

This journey resonates with those who have struggled with mental health, been through hard times, and made it to the other side.

2. Lotus Flower

Tattoos of flowers are evergreen and always in vogue. You can never go wrong with a rose, peony, or chrysanthemum. But the lotus flower has a deeper meaning for those with mental health journeys.

The lotus plant grows from the mud in a body of water before flowering on the water’s surface in bold purple, pink, and white hues. It represents the possibility of strength, resilience, and rebirth despite difficult circumstances.

Many clients and artists combine the lotus with images of animals, the om symbol, and other images to intensify its meaning. A popular text variation is “every flower must grow through the mud.”

3. Seated Meditator

Although many will recognize a seated meditator tattoo as a representation of a connection to Buddhism, yoga, and other spiritual practices, this tattoo has a mental health meaning as well.

It can be hard to be present in the moment for people who struggle with anxiety. This mindfulness tattoo can remind you to focus on what you can control now.

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4. Breathe

A well-placed text tattoo can be a reminder to focus. People familiar with the experience of a panic attack will know it can be overwhelming and make you feel like you aren’t in control of your body.

This simple text tattoo, often placed on the inside of the finger, wrist, forearm, or hand, helps us refocus that energy and control our breathing.

5. Semicolon

One of the simplest designs on this list has a deep meaning within the mental health community. In writing, the semicolon is used when the writer could end the sentence but continues anyways; examples of this technique are everywhere if you pay attention.

Many people who have suffered from suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness apply a semicolon tattoo to their bodies to represent their decision to continue through difficulties.

Many celebrities have embraced this tattoo design, including Selena Gomez, to help bring visibility to Project Semicolon, suicide prevention, and mental health organizations.

6. Broken Chain

Prevalent in prison tattooing, the broken chain is a powerful image representing a release from bondage, incarceration, or oppression.

Someone suffering from depression or anxiety may interpret it as a symbol of self-acceptance or breaking away from identifying themselves solely through their mental health struggles. It can also represent that someone has suffered from trauma but has broken away from it.

It is often found tattooed on the hand, under the collarbone, or wrist.

7. This Too Shall Pass

This text tattoo is an adaptation of an adage from medieval Persian Sufi poets. For many, things will not always be exactly how they are now — everything good, bad, or neutral does not last forever.

For people struggling through tough times, this affirmation can be a gentle reminder to stay strong and patient and never lose hope — and it can balance the sometimes prevalent negative self-talk that comes with mental illness. Although delicate script is often the preferred font for this style of body art, some people prefer it in Persian calligraphy.

8. Barbed Wire

Barbed wire tattoos originated in the criminal world, with each spike along the wire representing a year of imprisonment. But since becoming a part of the greater tattoo lexicon, the meanings have changed, and people seek it out for different reasons.

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To cross a barbed wire fence causes pain, so many wearers look to it as a bold statement of surviving pain and trauma. From another perspective, this meaningful tattoo can be seen as protection from the challenges we face.

9. Serotonin Compound

The neurotransmitter serotonin is sometimes known as the happiness hormone. Many medications prescribed for depression and anxiety increase levels of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin tattoos are typically done as simple line tattoos in the design of its chemical structure. Some designs embellish the basic layout with flowers.

People choose this tattoo to represent their struggle with mental health or to raise awareness and show solidarity with others. This tattoo can become a meaningful part of your mental health journey.

10. Phoenix

The mythical phoenix is an immortal bird that lives for hundreds of years before going up in a blaze of fire and rising from its ashes with a new life. A tattoo of a phoenix can represent being reborn stronger than ever after a period of difficulty.

The bird is often depicted in bold reds and oranges, sometimes engulfed in flames, with its wings spread upward in flight.

11. Moth

Many of us are familiar with the expression “like a moth to the flame.” Although this expression means being drawn to something that may hurt us, there is another meaning regarding mental health tattooing.

The nocturnal moth only comes out at night and is drawn to sources of light. For some, this means remembering to follow the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how difficult and dark things may get. Much like butterflies, moths undergo a metamorphosis before reaching their final form.

Often tattooed on the sternum and stomach, variations on the basic design will incorporate a crescent moon or another source of light.

12. Lavender Plant

The lavender plant is favored for its essential oils, which are soothing and calming. Its color and shape also make it a great houseplant or garden go-to.

Although this tattoo may be chosen for aesthetics alone, anxious people may choose to get a lavender tattoo as a subtle nod to their relationship with anxiety. These are usually made as simple line drawings and shaded with pops of purple and green.

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13. Koi Fish

The key to the koi fish tattoo’s meaning lies in the legend of the Dragon Gate. In this story, a koi fish swims upstream through rivers, waterfalls, and other obstacles until reaching the Dragon Gate at the top of the mountain before transforming into a powerful dragon.

Often depicted as a pair of two fish, or a single fish emerging from the water, this tattoo symbolizes perseverance, strength, determination, and resilience through times of difficulty.

14. Green Ribbon

A green ribbon is an international symbol of mental health awareness. People with this tattoo may suffer from mental issues themselves, or they may get it to express solidarity with friends, family, and all others facing these challenges.

Although the most common design is simply the ribbon itself, it can be found incorporated into other designs– as the stem of a flower, the body of a butterfly, or alongside accompanying text.

15. Overthinking Head

The overthinking head is more of a broad category than a single design. These designs typically show a human face with some part of it altered. A face with mazes, spirals, or squiggles coming out of it, a head with multiple faces attached to it, and faces with fog coming out of it are all common variations.

In the mental health context, the meanings of these designs are endless. For some people, it represents the feeling of living with bipolar, anxiety, and other conditions that make their minds feel disordered.

16. Self-Harm Cover Ups

For people who have gone through periods of self-harm, a tattoo can be a powerful way of turning that pain into a positive. For this category of tattoos, no single image is most common since personalization is everything.

Regarding scars from cutting, some people choose to have a tattoo that interacts with it. This could mean a tattoo is designed around the scars or using the space between the scars to incorporate text. Others opt to cover them up completely with hopeful and inspiring images.

Mad Rabbit Can Help Honor Your Mental Health Tattoos

Although tattoos of all kinds can be deeply personal, designs that speak to mental health struggles are even more so. From simple line drawings to text to intricate designs that are layered with meaning, these tattoos can be therapeutic and reassuring for the wearer.

Mad Rabbit’s tattoo aftercare products can help you continue the life of your mental health tattoo with the same thought, intention, and care that inspired your decision. Our Soothing Gel can help support the healing process by restoring your moisture barrier and soothing irritation in those first two weeks of healing.

Applying our Tattoo Balm daily to a newly healed tattoo or existing work can preserve it, maintaining the vibrancy of these meaningful designs long after you leave the chair.

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Join the discussion



What tattoo represents mental health? ›

The green ribbon, also referred to as the mental health ribbon, is the global symbol of mental health awareness and can also be associated with bipolar disorder. The green ribbon Tattoo is an excellent mental health tattoo choice, especially for people who want to show their support for mentally ill people.

What tattoo is for anxiety? ›

"Spiritual tattoos — mandala, hamsa, chakra, tree of life, Budha, lotus, etc. — are common for battling anxiety. They symbolize the overcoming of struggle, protection, self care, rebirth, the circle of life, kindness, strength, new challenges, and new beginnings."

What is the universal symbol for mental health? ›

The green ribbon is the international symbol of mental health awareness. Wear a green ribbon to show colleagues, loved ones or simply those you walk past that you care about their mental health. It can also be worn in memory of a loved one.

What is the tattoo for bipolar? ›

#2 The Colon, an Open Parenthesis, and a Colon :(:

Just like the semicolon, other forms of punctuation are used to portray mental health challenges; this arrangement of two colons and an open parenthesis represents bipolar disorder. The symbol makes a kind of double emoticon.

What does the tattoo with 3 dots mean? ›

The three dots tattoo represents “Mi Vida Loca,” which translates to “my crazy life.” It often means the struggles of the underprivileged and the minorities. It's a way of saying, “my life is crazy, but I'm thankful for it,” or “life may be crazy, but I'm still here.”

What is the tattoo for depression? ›

Semicolon With Heart Tattoo

It is a popular tattoo representing suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and love for those suffering from depression or other mental illnesses. The semicolon symbolizes that we can choose to keep going, while the heart reminds us that we are never alone.

What is a symbol for depression? ›

You might have seen rainstorm images, ravens, and skull or grim reaper symbols. Barren landscapes and faces of cliffs are popular, too. All of these are commonly associated with depression because they capture the essence of the darkness, despair, struggle, and thoughts of death that are hallmarks of major depression.

What symbolizes overcoming struggle? ›

The lotus symbolizes growing and overcoming obstacles, hardship, and whatever life throws at you.

What tattoo symbolizes anxiety and depression? ›

If you're looking for anxiety tattoos, you've probably seen a lot of options with semicolons. Semicolon tattoos were inspired by Project Semicolon – a nonprofit organization dedicated to suicide prevention. Over time, the semicolon has been used to represent mental health awareness, including anxiety.

What is the flower for mental health? ›

Jasmine. Jasmine is not just a beautiful bloom, it is also one of the preferred flowers for mental health preservation. Jasmine reduces stress, anxiety levels and helps with sleep problems. Jasmine helps lower a person's heart rate and facilitate a peaceful sleep.

What is the symbol for psych? ›

the Greek letter ψ, often used to symbolize psychology.

What logo colors for mental health? ›

Blue also speaks peace, tranquility, mystery, depth, and strength. We use it a lot in the health and wellness industry, so it may be the perfect primary color for your mental health clinic! Purple – Because purple is a combination of red and blue, it likes to flip-flop between emotional signals.

Is there a symbol for PTSD? ›

The teal ribbon brings awareness and support to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

What is a serotonin tattoo? ›

Serotonin Tattoo

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation and controlling feelings. Those with a serotonin tattoo may have it as a reminder to stay happy and calm.

What does the 2% tattoo mean? ›

This number is a powerful symbol that speaks to the immense amount of work that is still needed in the fight against addiction. Those who bear this tattoo, wear it with pride because it points to the victory in that persons life. Most who bear the the mark of the 2% have survived a battle that many will not.

What does the tattoo 777 mean? ›

Men and women frequently flaunt 777 tattoos on their bodies, and they come in a wide range of patterns. The meaning of 777 is luck, as opposed to the meaning of 444, which represents desire and ambition. This number also symbolizes the Holy Trinity in Christianity.

What does the M tattoo mean? ›

'La Eme,' or The M, is the symbol of the Mexican Mafia. They are one of the largest and most ruthless prison gangs in the U.S. They're allied with the Aryan Brotherhood, and have a common enemy in the Nuestra Familia. La Eme was started not in Mexico, but in Mexican-Americans who were incarcerated in American prisons.

What is the 444 tattoo meaning? ›

The 444 tattoo refers to a spirit of self-improvement, passion and effort. This set of numbers is one of the most popular angel numbers, which are repeating numbers in a sequence that offers guidance and support during a time of need.

What is the saddest tattoo? ›

Black remains safest. Blue and green inks with copper phthalocyanine pigments are safe too.

What is a stress tattoo? ›

Summary: A newly developed “e-tattoo” monitors electrodermal activity, revealing when a person is experiencing elevated stress levels.

What color is for bipolar? ›

The black and white colors of the Bipolar Awareness Ribbon represent the opposite poles of depression and mania associated with Bipolar Disorder. The Ribbon was designed for the Foundation by Ryan's mother.

What colors represent bipolar? ›

Wear a ribbon

The ribbon to raise awareness for bipolar disorder is black-and-white striped. This represents the episodes of depression and mania that can be part of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder might sometimes also be represented by a green ribbon.

What is the symbol for mental health resilience? ›

The Helix. The helix shape (or spiral) is a symbol of resilience.

What is a trauma tattoo? ›

A traumatic tattoo is when foreign bodies become forcibly embedded in the dermis and create a permanent tattoo. Such particles may include fireworks, sand, metal, glass, gunpowder, asphalt, dust, petroleum products, and graphite from pencil point injuries.

What tattoo means keep going? ›

1. An arrow tattoo represents moving forward. Whenever you're feeling like you're stuck in a situation, it will remind you to keep going ahead.

What tattoo means moving forward? ›

A compass arrow tattoo represents going forward in a new direction or starting a new chapter in life. Another common design choice is a diamond arrow, which symbolizes having the strength to move on thanks to the gem's reputation as one of the toughest materials in the world.

What flower symbolizes mental health? ›

The Flannel Flower, an Australian native, has been chosen as the national symbol to promote mental health awareness in Australia. The Australian bush has an inherent beauty and strength.

What tattoo represents struggle? ›

The semicolon is a symbol of struggle, survival, and victory.


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