What you should know about mental health tattoo

stick aand poke tattoo


Tattoo! Sounds familiar right?

It is now a recent fashion trend, everybody want to get a tattoo that makes a statement.

How about Mental health? What have you heard about mental health illness?

Not much right? But you have probably heard of suicide, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. All these are mental disorders that a lot of people in our society face.

There are several treatments or therapies for mental health illnesses, and a recent treatment is “tattoo therapy”

Now you may have questions like;

What is tattoo therapy?

Is it effective?

Can tattoos really cure mental illnesses?

Keep reading to get the answers to your questions.

What is a mental health tattoo?

Mental health tattoos are body markings with deeper symbolic meaning.

Just like the regular tattoos people get to represent past events or things they love. 

Mental health tattoos are drawings or writings on the body that serve as a source of inspiration, encouragement or a form of expression.

Most mental health survivors or patients find strength in these tattoos.

What tattoos symbolises mental health

1.    Semicolon

Semicolon in writing shows that a sentence is not complete, writers include Semicolon to their work and add other words before a full stop.

The concept of a Semicolon as a means of continuity was introduced into the mental health community by Amy in 2013.

She started a project called project Semicolon, a non- profit organisation to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Semicolon is a mental health tattoo that signifies solidarity. 

People who are suffering from mental health illness. Or who lost their loved ones to mental health issues can use it to exhibit their struggle or feelings.

It symbolizes continuity

As I earlier explained, writers used Semicolon in their work to signify a continuation. 

People living with mental health issues use the symbol as a statement that their story is not enough. There are still a lot of chapters and pages that need to be included in the book on their life.

In simple terms; it means that the story is still ongoing.

2.    Butterfly 

Who doesn’t love a good drawing of a Butterfly? They are beautiful and peaceful creatures that almost everyone loves to see.

Does this mean they are part of a mental health tattoo because of their beauty?

Not exactly! There is a deeper meaning that explains why a Butterfly is a mental health tattoo.

Symbolizes transformation 

In basic science classes, I’m sure we all learnt about the life cycle of a butterfly.

It begins from a pupa, advances to a caterpillar and ends up as a beautiful winged creature.

The butterfly represents transformation, the ability to change from a known feature to an unexpected growth or beauty.

Mental health patients are mostly summarised by society. However, this symbol reminds them that change is constant and just like the butterfly they transform.

During the recovery process, this symbol helps to remain that life occurs in different stages. They might not feel happy right now but there is a great possibility that they will experience great happiness.


Every flower must grow through dirt

Most times this quote is written in a cursive form. It is a strong reminder of the growth process of every flower.

No matter how beautiful a flower is, it always begins its growth as a seed in dirt.

This tattoo is a reminder that most beautiful things pass through a lot of unpleasant moments. 

Every flower passes through darkness before it blossoms, hence the mental struggles they pass might be the darkness before they flourish.

4.    Mountain

Climbing a mountain requires perseverance, determination and strength. 

The major goal is to get to the peak of the mountain, therefore this tattoo symbolizes struggle and the ability to prevail.

It focuses on the struggles that most people living with mental issues face and their will to triumph.

Mountains are rugged and filled with unexpected steps and slopes. It is also similar in mental issues as it is also characterised by irregularities.

The symbol of the mountain empowers the individual to seek strength and remain focused in order to reach the greatest height.

5.    Quote- I’ll rise up

To rise means that something or in this case, someone was at a low position. 

The sentence “I’ll rise up” has a finality and promise in its tone. It is not a question neither a solution, it is a statement or future declaration.

A mental health tattoo reminds the individual that they will survive the hard or dark times they face. It serves as a diary booster and encouragement that no matter how many times they fall, they will definitely rise again.

6.    Rosary bead

The rosary is a sacred catholic bead, Catholic faithful used this bead while reciting sets of prayers in order to receive good fortune and blessings.

Rosary represents faith in the supernatural or divinity, it is a realisation that there is a divine realm. It symbolizes unwavering faith despite challenges of life.

Quote- Be your bigger fan

This Quote us a reminder that we live first for ourselves before anybody else.

In the cycle of life, you are primary while everybody else is secondary. It reminds you to quit self hate, pessimism and any other negative habit that will limit you.

This tattoo reminds most people living with mental health issues or survivors to choose themselves first.

It informs them that their mental health issues are all secondary, and can be replaced with a healthier and happier life.

7.    Serotonin(happy chemical)

Most science studies will be familiar with this neurotransmitter “Serotonin” 

It is responsible for regulating vital functions in the body including; sleep and digestion.

A decline in the level of Serotonin can lead to mood swings, anxiety, depression and other mental imbalance.

Most people use this tattoo to remind themselves that their mood is a function of a chemical imbalance. 

8.    Green ribbon

Green is a beautiful colour that signifies growth, peace and freshness. 

Although all these have beautiful significance, most people tattoo a green ribbon on their body as a form of solidarity.

Lime green is the international colour for mental health awareness, hence people use it to allign or support the movement.

Butterfly + green ribbon

This showcases a loved one that was lost due to mental health illness.

Green ribbon + heart

A reminder to practice self-love.

9.    Lotus flower

The first thing you should know about the lotus flower is; is it an absolutely clean and beautiful flower.

Lotus grows is found in swampy areas,  it grows in deep mud. This is a substantial reason for the flower to be dirty or less beautiful.

Notwithstanding its origin, the Lotus grows into an attractive and sparkling flower.

People tattoo the Lotus flower to remind themselves that from hardship, beauty can still bloom.

Depression, anxiety and other forms of mental disorder can be a really dark place. However, from this dark place, light can still shine.

10.    Anchor

According to Wikipedia, an anchor is a device made of metal that secures a vessel to the water bed. This prevents it from drifting away due to the pressure from the wind.

This symbolizes strength and a strong hold despite harsh occurrences.

This mental health tattoo reminds the individual to remain strong despite the challenging time they encounter.

11.    Cloud

People use clouds to represent what they feel, a cloud tattoo may represent depression.

It obstructs your clear sight of view and creates a feel of darkness. It reminds people of the hard times they have passed or their present situation.

12.    Arrowing point downwards or upwards 

An Arrow pointing downwards signifies strength, while an arrow pointing upwards reminds one to move forward.

Is there a symbol for mental health?

Mental health victims are no longer hiding, thanks to the modern mental health movement. Dorothea Dix is the founder of the modern mental health movement.

The international symbol for mental health is the Green ribbon. 

It is believed mental patients were worn green in the hospital; in the 1800s it is also said that green was the colour used to label patients regarded as “Insane”

Now, it is no longer associated with the demeaning word “Insane” rather it is regarded as a badge for heroes.

Mental health survivors, people who had lost their loved ones due to mental health illness and those who support the movement.

What tattoos symbolize anxiety?

You don’t need to get a tattoo to deal with anxiety, however tattoos can serve as a daily reminder or mantra. This fills you with a positive feeling and strength whenever you look at the tattoo.

Semicolon tattoos including;

  • Butterfly and Semicolon 
  • Semicolon and quotes
  • Semicolon and encouraging words such as; “F;ghter, Resi;l;ent.
  • Lotus and Semicolon 

Anxiety tattoo can also be;

  • A meaningful quote
  • A peaceful scene
  • An inside joke that only you understand.
  • A happy memory. 
  • Patterned art: If you have been to a museum, most times partnered art grabs more attention.

 You are trying to figure out the artist’s point of view or perhaps what the painting represents. 

This can be useful when dealing with anxiety, as it takes your focus away from the situation and places it in the artwork. 

  • A strong animal
  • Calming words such as; Breathe, Peace, Hope, Beauty.
  • Peaceful colours.

Is there a tattoo for depression 

Depression tattoo is a form of mental health tattoo, it serves as a strong physical reminder to remain tough despite challenges.


In 2013, Amy Bleuel founded the project Semicolon. 

Project Semicolon is a non-profit organisation that focuses mainly on encouraging mental health patients.

It seeks to remind themselves that there is hope and their story is still ongoing.

  1. Semicolon with flower  

Every Flower had a symbolic meaning that might resonate with a particular individual. If you wish to get a flower tattoo, choose the flower that conveys an essential meaning to you.

  1. Semicolon with heart  

There are different ways to do this, you can speak to your tattoo artist about the style you most prefer.  

  1. Semicolon with musical note

Music has a strong impact on an individual’s mood. If you are a lover of music, you can choose to include musical notes to your tattoo.

  1. Semicolon with cross  

The Cross sign is a very popular tattoo, however you can change its meaning by adding a Semicolon.

  1. Words

You can choose to use words positive and calming words like; smile, hope, believe, breath e.t.c

What flower represents mental health 

In Australia, the Flannel flower represents mental health. It was chosen as a symbol to promote mental health awareness.

Is there a symbol for suicide survival?

The international symbol for mental health “Semicolon” us also the symbol for suicide survival.

What does a butterfly tattoo mean in mental health


Butterflies are flying creatures, this signifies freedom. In mental health, this signifies freedom from the darkness of depression, fear, self-doubt and others.


The ability to change from a caterpillar to a butterfly shows that life occurs in different stages. In mental health this simply means that “You will be okay”

You might not feel alright at the moment but a time for change is bound to come.


You don’t have to be living with mental health or a survivor to get a butterfly tattoo. It can also be a form of expression to show your support to the movement.

Do tattoo helps with anxiety 

This is subjective to each individual.

Some people believe that mental health tattoos can help with anxiety as it serves as a daily motivation.

However others may argue that it reminds them of their pain, past and a time that they desperately seek to forget.

What does a Serotonin tattoo mean?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the following bodily processes;

  • Mood regulation
  • Happiness
  • Calmness

This tattoo serves as a reminder when you feel low-  that your present feeling is not your fault, rather it is a result of a chemical imbalance.

What symbolises overcoming struggles?

Earlier we discussed the origin of lotus flower and how it grows from murky water.

The flower symbolizes hardships, growth and the ability to overcome obstacles despite surrounding circumstances.

Is there a symbol for bipolar disorder?

Striped black and white ribbon is used to promote awareness for bipolar disorder. Sometimes, the green ribbon for mental health is also used.

Two colon and one parenthesis :(: is also used to signify bipolar disorder.

If  you look closely at the symbol, you will realize that it looks like an emoticon. One side has a smiley face while the other face is frowning.

Mental health tattoo quotes  

  1. I’m a warrior
  2. This too shall pass
  3. My story isn’t over yet
  4. One day at a time
  5. You are a body of work
  6. And here you are living despite it all
  7. It’s okay not to be okay
  8. It’s not about forcing happiness,  it’s about not letting sadness in.
  9. Everything is temporary 
  10. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem.
  11. I’ll never give up, I’m a fighter 
  12. She believed she could so she did
  13. Take these broken wings and learn to fly
  14. Never a victim, forever a fighter
  15. You are beautiful, you are valuable, you are enough.
  16. I’m not afraid to keep on living.
  17. Still I rise 
  18. Strength is what we gain from the madness we survive. 
  19. Sometimes you have gotta fall before you fly
  20. Stronger than the struggle

Mental health symbols and meaning 

Green ribbon : Mental health 

Semicolon : Continuity 

Colon and Parenthesis: Bipolar disorder 

Lotus flower: Overcoming challenges 


Are mental health tattoos effective? If this is your question then only you can give the answer.

While some people claim that mental health tattoos give them strength, others argue that it serves as a reminder of their past.

Do you have a mental health tattoo? Does it help you? Drop your responses in the comment section.