James Sebastiano on discovering the Root Causes of Mental Health Issues in ‘Chasing the Present'

By: Karishhma Ashwin By: Karishhma Ashwin | April 27, 2021 | Sponsored Post,

Mental health issues no longer carry the stigma they once did. It is no longer a subject of embarrassment or a cause to move to a hideaway in the shadows. There is an increased awareness and understanding of the nature of mental health and how commonplace it is. Although there have been groundbreaking advances in the treatment and acknowledgment of mental health issues, there is still a distinct lack of understanding concerning the root cause of illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. This dilemma led psychologist filmmaker James Sebastiano to produce the documentary ‘Chasing the Present.’


“Mental health is an issue which affects us all,” explains Sebastiano. “It’s not about ‘if you’ll ever suffer’ from anxiety or depression but ‘when’. As someone who has battled a fair share of problems in the past, I always found it intriguing that we may be quick to identify and reach for an easy, and in many cases, chemical fix for our issues, but less quick to try and learn what caused them in the first place. This is pretty much the line of thinking that inspired my documentary.”

‘Chasing The Present’ follows Sebastiano as he travels to Nepal, India, Indonesia, Europe, Peru, the USA, and Iceland in search of answers to understand the heightened anxiety he has lived with his entire life. Along the way, he meets with a wide range of people who have struggled with their mental health issues, such as Russell Brand, Alex Grey, and Graham Hancock. They all share their insights on why a person who seemingly has it all can suffer from debilitating panic attacks, and why so many of us are drawn to the very things that damage us profoundly.

James Sebastiano explains, “The documentary is a voyage of self-discovery for me, and hopefully the viewer. Addictions and mental health issues plague so many of the world’s population but for the most part, we simply contain it without addressing the root cause. It’s only through a thorough examination of oneself, and a truthful acknowledgment of the issues and decisions can we find the strength and conviction needed to break free from the negative patterns and behaviors which lead us downward in a series of vicious and ever-decreasing circles. What the film helped me to learn is that none of us are chained to our past, nor are we condemned to a future we don’t want. Each day we are born anew and can define it in our image. The answers to our problems are all within us and that’s the real journey every one of us needs to make.”

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