Tattoos for Health

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Photo from The Semicolon Tattoo Project Facebook Page

According to the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, it has been found that the ages of 18 to 24 are when mental health issues begin to play a part in many people’s lives. Similarly, adolescence is the most common time to acquire tattoos.

Links between mental illness and tattoos remain prevalent. A study by the International Journal of Dermatology titled “Are tattoos associated with negative health‐related outcomes and risky behaviors?” even found people with tattoos were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues.


Considering the college aged population has a lot of new stressers, higher rates in mental illnesses can be understood. While stress differs from person to person, it exists for everyone. From roommates, to deadlines, to living away from home. There is a variety of areas stress can come from in college.

In an annual survey of American college students, over 39 percent of them said that they felt so depressed that it was hard to function. This brings to question: what can be done to combat this health epidemic? Tattoos seem to be an alternate route to traditional therapy that college students are choosing to take to cope with the pressures.

There are even befits to going under the needle.

The sensation of the needle can feel like a massage and the hum of the machine can be calming to the ears. The American Journal of Human Biology also said tattoos can reduce cortisol levels. This improves the immune system and aids in stress reduction. Meaning tattoos could be useful for depression and anxiety.

For those interested in the aesthetic, being tattooed can be used as a reward system.

But, there are still ‘tattoo therapy’ critics who are not sold on the idea that tattoos are a form of self care.

When someone gets a tattoo, the tattoo serves a purpose that varies owner to owner. But all tattoos are constant reminders of a specific moment in a person’s life.

 Project Semicolon is a popular form of recovery art that intertwines with mental health. It was created in support of those struggling with suicide, depression, self-injury and addiction. Since it has become a symbol of mental health awareness. The semi colon was chosen because it represents where a writer could have ended a sentence but didn’t. Each person is symbolically the author of their own lives. This tattoo conveys the message that you chose to continue.

Getting a tattoo can be a way to ‘own your story’, but it is not the only way tattoos are intertwined with mental health. Artists like Rav Norris are using their skills to raise money for the cause while simultaneously increasing mental health awareness through the art.


Maybe supporting what you believe in through body ink will go past the stigmas that overcast tattoos and mental health.

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