Many people suffer from psychiatric disorders and mental distress. But how are we to understand these problems, and how are we to treat them? I argue that we need to look at their developmental history, the social and cultural practices they take part in, and their existential (self)understanding. Surprisingly perhaps, a focus on the person in psychiatry reveals the need to take people’s context – broadly understood – into account. This fits with holistic, personalized approaches to treatment. It also implies that psychiatry may need to become more socially and/or politically engaged.