One in five Americans struggles with their mental health. Anxiety disorders, obsessive thoughts, depression, and many other illnesses are common. Unfortunately, a stigma still exists in our society that people with mental illness are weak. Nothing could be further from the truth! In an act of defiance, people get mental health tattoos to show others that they are not alone. A tattoo can be a way to express solidarity with anyone who is also battling mental illness.
Additionally, tattoos can be used as tools of positive reinforcement or simply reminders to keep going when it gets tough. Reminding yourself to care for yourself can be a powerful act. A tattoo can help you do that every time you see it. Here are 26 inspiring mental health tattoos to remind you to keep on living and loving.
26. On the Mend
This tattoo belongs to a nurse who works with children suffering from mental illness. It’s cheery and approachable and we imagine it helps ease tension. We especially love the dots used on the bandaid.
25. A Promise to Yourself
The woman who shared this image also included the caption:
“To me, the pinky promise represents solidarity and friendship. It reminds me I’m not alone and that I have people who care about me and want me to be safe. When I make a pinky promise with a friend to take care of myself or to go to them for help if needed, I keep that promise. When I look at my arm, I’m reminded that love and friendship are more powerful than my mental illnesses.”
24. Mom’s Got This
A mom explained why she got this tattoo, writing:
“Meet Jayden. My crazy strong enthusiastic [9-year-old]. He is the reason behind my 3rd tattoo, which is hands down my favorite. While I was in the hospital, he gave me a piece of paper that said to “keep trying” and in that moment, I knew I had to. I got this tattoo in his handwriting so on the days I feel like giving up I can look down and remind myself that he, along with my other son are the reason why I wake up [every day] and TRY. No matter how big or small, you have to find a reason to keep trying.”
23. Your Story Continues
Semicolons are an extremely popular symbol of the silent battle many people are currently fighting. A semicolon tattoo symbolizes solidarity against suicide, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues.
22. We Heal
“I am enough,” is a powerful message to tell yourself. People who suffer from anxiety or depression often suffer intense feelings of inadequacy. This amazing tattoo helps to reinforce wellness.
21. Greater Than
The person who got this tattoo on their wrist explained that it means “I am greater than my high and lows.” This unique, understated tattoo carries such a meaningful message.
20. It’s Okay to Cry
This Sailor Moon tattoo was shared with the hashtag: #itsokaytocry. The flowers that flank the cartoon image are forget-me-nots. This tattoo has so much going for it.
19. A Reminder
“Who can say what sorrow the seeming carefree folk carry to their life’s end,” is a positive reminder that everyone is dealing with something. What a gorgeous black and grey design.
These ankle tattoos belong to a pair of sisters who got them to “show support to everyone who may be suffering in silence and feels alone.”
17. Still Kicking
This “still alive” tattoo in red ink looks stunning. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Those who have had suicidal thoughts know how scary it can be. This tattoo celebrates life.
16. From Me to Me
A positive note to yourself is always a good idea. Getting inked with a message of love and hope is a love letter to yourself.
15. Feel It All
This mental health awareness tattoo comes from Madrid. We love the vibrant color and bold design.
14. Feeling Trapped
We’ve taken a little detour to Europe, folks! This tattoo comes from Hamburg where a tattoo apprentice in quarantine created this design to express feelings of entrapment. This is a stick and poke tattoo and it’s incredible.
Pixie’s song, “Where is My Mind?” is widely popular because it asks the same question people who have struggled with mental illness ask. “Who is my mind?” is a riff that is incredibly creative when paired with the smart face design.
12. Kintsugi Brain
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery. The result is precious “scars” that appear after pieces are joined back together. This tattoo design imagines a kintsugi brain that’s been pieced back together. An extremely creative and powerful tattoo.
11. A Special Mandala
Mandala-inspired designs are very popular tattoos. A Mandala is meant to guide a spiritual journey so it’s very appropriate that this person combined it with a semicolon.
10. In Wonderland
This tattoo combines a lot of things in one design. It shows solidarity with the quote: “We’re all mad here.” You’ll notice that it’s punctuated with a semicolon with the dot in the shape of Minnie Mouse.
To contrast the colorfulness of the last design, take a look at this minimalist silhouette. It’s clear the jumbled lines at the center represent some form of mental struggle. A truly beautiful design here.
8. Keep Fighting
First off, the bumblebee is super cute. This “f;ghter” tattoo was shared for Project; (Project Semicolon) a nonprofit that strives to prevent suicide and raise awareness about mental illness.
7. Mental Health
This tattoo’s design is so literal you’d expect to find it on the cover of a textbook about mental health. There’s no denying what this tattoo is conveying. This was a choice!
6. Keep On Going
The motivation to “carry on” can feel impossible for those struggling with mental illness. This gorgeous two-word tattoo says so much while being so very subtle.
5. Inner Demons
This shocking design thrusts into light what’s usually a hidden burden. The tattoo artist who shared this design captioned the image “Take care people, and stay in yer houses.”
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4. Love You
All about it. This image was shared shortly after the pandemic began. The person with the tattoo shared this message:
“Remember to take care of yourself as well as others during this time. Mental health could take a hit during this time, I know my anxiety has worsened the last few days for [sure]! Try and take a minute to sit, chill, and look at some positives.”
3. A Useful Reminder
Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a panic attack or experiencing anxiety, the best thing you can hear is “everything will be okay.” It’s a great reminder that, with work, things will improve.
2. You Are Tough
The person with this tattoo shared that the saying, “Life is tough my darling but so are you,” helped get her through multiple hospital stays. This beautiful sentiment and its power are on full display with this tattoo.
1. Self Love
This powerful affirmation is a popular one and even inspired a best-selling children’s book by Grace Byers. Three simple words convey such a powerful message of self-acceptance. We love that the design comes in the form of a letter and envelope, its message blooming from within.
These inspiring mental health tattoos are unique and meaningful. Mental health isn’t the easiest thing to talk about, but mental health tattoos help start that conversation. If you or someone you know is struggling right now, visit MentalHealth.gov. The website includes a variety of resources and access to help for those who need it.