An exploration of the pages of two psychiatric hospital magazines, Speedwell from Holywell Hospital, Antrim, and The Sketch from Downshire Hospital, Downpatrick, reveals the activity-filled lives of patients and staff during the 1960s and 1970s. This was a time of great change in mental health care. It was also a time of political turbulence in Northern Ireland. With large in-patient populations, both hospitals had a range of occupational and sporting activities available to patients and staff. The magazines formed part of the effort to promote the ethos of a therapeutic community. While hospital magazines may be viewed as one aspect of an institutional system that allowed people to cut themselves off from the wider society, they also provided opportunities for budding writers to express their views on life in a hospital from the service-user perspective. As such, they offer some valuable insights into the lives of psychiatric patients.