Mental Health Symbols Can Raise Awareness and Break the Stigma

Head with flowers coming from top symbolizing mental health main

Life is stressful. Do you need a mental health day? Who doesn’t? Mental wellness is essential for good health. Mental health symbols include green ribbons, doves and butterflies, origami cranes, anchors, and semicolons (only periods are at the end of a sentence!). Get some jasmine tea, think calming thoughts, and happy reading! 

What Is Mental Health? 

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. 

One of us here spent many years as a teacher of high school students. There is a bit of stress in that job. But, life overall is very stressful. Just ask any parent. Not that being a child is the easiest job out there. It might seem like it. Imagine if you were a helpless baby. Stress city.

Mental health includes all aspects of retaining a peaceful state of mind. Mental health problems can arise in many ways, including chemical imbalances and trauma. Good mental health involves addressing difficulties large and small. It is a job that is best handled one day at a time.  

The Brain 

Mental health ultimately starts in the brain. The brain is the most basic symbol of mental health. A light bulb symbolizes mental creativity and insight. A candle is the light inside us. 

Another body part related symbol is the open hands. They symbolize many things. Open hands represent empathy and support. They mean we are receptive to life and new things. We accept our limitations and find ways to deal with them positively.  

National Alliance For Mental Health

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. It is a great resource. Its logo (blades of grass) reflects its grassroots foundation. 

NAMI promotes mental health in a variety of ways. May is Mental Health Month. The first week of October is Mental Awareness Month. These are just two of many times set aside. 

Green Ribbons 

NAMI sometimes uses a green ribbon to promote its message. The green ribbon is the international symbol of mental health awareness.  

Green has a special relationship to growth, hope, and healing. The color symbolizes life. Each spring, new life grows, starting with the first blades of grass and seedlings. Green lights mean “go” and the ability to move forward. Black cats with green eyes fascinate us. 

Green is the symbol of a healthy, happy life. It is a symbol to promote mental health awareness. The Pete Foundation uses a flag with different shades of green. There are many more ways to spread the “green” message, including buttons, posters, and banners.  

Color Codes 

Gray is a dull shade without much color. It also symbolizes misery and depression. 

We also feel “blue” (sad). This usage is surprising since blue is often associated with a blue sky, which is usually a good sign unless you are a farmer who needs rain.

But, when we are injured, we are “black and blue.” Blue also is associated with the lack of fresh red blood. It is associated with being “lifeless.”

Suicide and suicide prevention are symbolized by various colors, including different shades of bluish colors (teal and purple) and yellow or orange.  

Black is commonly associated with bad things, including a person having “black moods.” Black is also specifically used to symbolize bipolar disorders (manic depression). 

Color coding is a helpful way to classify things. Color is important to keep in mind when maintaining good mental health. Some colors are calming; others are stressful. Decorating tip!

Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies are symbols of rebirth. A caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly that flies away.  Butterflies are Free is even the name of a movie.  Butterflies are very hopeful animals.

Monarch butterflies are also symbols of those who deal with mental illness. They represent the hope and determination that a person will fight through and come out the other side. 

A person becomes like a butterfly, a bright and colorful creature who can fly freely. 


Doves are commonly released to symbolize new beginnings, including at marriages. They are symbols of purity, calm, and beauty. They also are symbols of mental health.  


Tattoos have been a means from ancient times to use our bodies as a message board. There is an almost countless variety of tattoos possible. We have talked about them regularly on this website, including friend tattoos. A butterfly tattoo can symbolize your mental health.

A semicolon tattoo, however, is more confusing. Is the person a writer? No. Project Semicolon involves suicide awareness. The idea is that a semicolon is not the end of a sentence. 

We must not let the worst moments of our lives be the end. Life goes on.  

Other Tattoo Ideas

Anchors remind us to stay strong and not let life’s struggles cause us to sink into depression. They also symbolize our support team, a fundamental part of mental health. 

Lotus flowers are sacred in Buddhism and Hinduism. They symbolize enlightenment and rebirth. Flowers that arise from muddy water and become beautiful show us that the messiness of life need not interfere with our mental health. They also symbolize friendship and support.

Jasmine and lavender symbolize beauty, peace, and contentment. Jasmine is the name of a Disney princess for a reason. A sense of calm and contentment means good mental health.  

Origami Crane

A crane is a mystical creature in Japan that is believed to be able to live a thousand years.  

Paper cranes, a form of origami (paper folding), are symbolically released to promote healing, peace, and as a sign of good luck. Folding the cranes is a way to obtain mindfulness and inner peace. I hope you will obtain yours and that you have enjoyed reading this discussion.   


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