Phillip J. Roundtree
“Black Mental Health Matters”
7th Annual TEDxWilmington Conference // 27 September 2018
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Phillip J Roundtree for TEDxWilmington

Meet the Speakers: Phillip J. Roundtree for TEDxWilmington
Weds. 15 August 2018

The date was July 12, 2018 at approximately 3pm EST. I’m sitting with a young, autistic black male providing therapeutic services. During our break, I checked my email, and immediately saw that I received an email from TEDxWilmington. I was apprehensive to open it, unsure as to whether it was a rejection to my request to present a TEDx talk at TEDxWilmington’s 7th annual conference.

The email was quite the contrary, it was a congratulatory email, informing me of my selection as a TEDx presenter. I immediately shed a few tears; not necessarily because of this achievement, which is amazing, but because it affords me an opportunity to take another step in my purpose- which is to emphasize the importance of mental and emotional wellness, especially to black and brown communities.

For the past two years I’ve embarked on this journey of providing mental health awareness to anyone that’ll listen. My passion has taken me to colleges and universities, professional conferences, high schools, elementary schools, and now the TEDx stage. I don’t take this opportunity lightly, especially since I’ll be discussing a topic that WILL impact everyone at some point in their life. My talk will outline why I hold this topic near and dear to my heart; hence, why I’m preparing myself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually daily. My desire is for this talk to resonate for myself, those in attendance, and those who view online.

Since being notified three weeks ago, I’ve worked diligently in meeting deadline requirements, often sending in required content at exactly noon on the due date. I’ve recorded videos numerous times, rewritten outlines several times, trying to recreate the energy necessary for that day. As I write, I’ve had to remind myself to be gentle with myself. I recognize that I will not be able to recreate that same energy that I give when I speak. When I speak, it’s the spirits of my ancestors, suicide successes, and other’s coping with mental wellness issues that give me life. So forgive me in advance if my blogs seem dry, or videos lackluster, those previously mentioned are allowing me to reserve energy stores, preparing for September 27th.


the TEDx process: Phillip J. Roundtree for TEDxWilmington
Weds. 5 September 2018

Peace, peace, Peace. It has been 4 weeks since my last blog entry. To say my life has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. I studied for and eventually took the GRE with hopes of getting into a fully funded doctoral program in 2019. In addition, I resigned from my job as a child therapist to be a full-time entrepreneur, all the while continuing to prepare for the TEDx talk. A theme that’s prevalent in my TEDx talk is the idea of resilience which has been an important concept for me to remember as I continue to embark upon this journey of enlightenment.

Despite the ebb and flows of life, I’ve been able to fulfill my commitments to TEDxWilmington, including writing and recording the first video of the talk. As a speaker, I usually have an idea of what I’m going to say, but I allow the spirits of the ancestors to give me energy and information to convey. No two talks I’ve given have been the same. This process was rather different for me, as I was forced to sit and write, and rewrite, and write some more, until I had a product that I felt secure in sharing.

Prior to recording, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to replicate the energy and confidence that’ll be present on September 27th, but I persevered. At it’s conclusion, a dope young woman who assisted me with recording showered me with accolades. I live with depression and anxiety and receiving compliments is something that I’m learning to become comfortable in accepting. Her sentiments would be echoed by the select few who I allowed to view the video which further encouraged me. The feedback from TEDx reviewers solidified that I’m headed in the right direction which also was encouraging. All the feedback received reinforced the importance of this topic and why I am the one who should be presenting it.


Reflecting: Phillip J. Roundtree for TEDxWilmington
Weds. 3 October 2018

It’s now a few days since the 7th Annual TEDxWilmington, one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve had. The experience was amazing for many different reasons. The first was being afforded the opportunity to meet new people, who all had amazing “ideas worth spreading”. Being able to forge connections with people who were passionate about their respective topics is something that I’ll take with me as I embark on this journey of self-actualization through passion sharing.

The next reason this was an amazing experience was my performance, both the rehearsal and show day. I had general anxiety; however, I was able to transfer that energy into the performance, which received rave reviews from my fellow speakers. I was relieved that rehearsal was over, but became even more anxious due to concerns that I wouldn’t be able to replicate the same emotional energy for show day.

Later that evening, as I entered the speaker’s dinner, those feelings persisted. I was put at ease by some of my fellow speakers, who’d offer verbal encouragement throughout the wonderful dinner. The hospitality of Ajit, and the TEDxWilmington tribe, was top notch throughout the dinner and this entire experience.

It’s show day! As I watched speaker after speaker present, I became more anxious, yet excited. I’d utilize positive self-talk and other strategie to improve my mindset. It was my turn, and as Ajit began to read my “Thank You’s”, which was a salute to those who’ve died by suicide, I began to cry. This lasted even as I walked on stage. The audience was gracious, allowing me time to regain my composure. Then I began, “When you look at me…”, and that was it. I poured everything into this performance, with the result being a standing ovation from the crowd. As i exited the stage, the kudos and support continued, from people of all ages and ethnicities. I felt accomplished and grateful.

This TEDx experience was one I’ll remember forever, as I’ll be immortalized, along with my TEDxWilmington class, as individuals who believed in something bigger than them and gave their all.

Phillip J. Roundtree is a dynamic and engaging speaker, who has been practicing professionally in the field of Social Work since 2005. During his professional career he’s recognized society’s lack of emphasis placed on mental health awareness and total wellness, which has resulted in him evolving into a staunch champion of promoting wellness awareness amongst various communities, particularly those marginalized and oft underrepresented. READ MORE 

7th Annual TEDxWilmington Conference // Thursday September 27th 2018

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