TikTok influencer Chris Olsen talks on mental health, new coffee brand

Madeline Duncan, Senior News Reporter

Over 400 UT students gathered to listen to TikTok star and entrepreneur Chris Olsen speak about his journey as a content creator and advocate for mental health and his new coffee brand at the University Union on Wednesday, hosted by the Student Endowed Centennial Leadership.

Olsen first gained popularity on TikTok during the pandemic, going viral for his “flying for coffee” series, in which he brings coffee to other creators, celebrities and politicians like Vice President Kamala Harris, Meghan Trainor and Austin Butler. He is also known for documenting his journey through therapy and sobriety. During his talk, Olsen discussed his career as a content creator as well as his new coffee brand, Flight Fuel.

“What’s really exciting about the app is some people have found me for very different things when they needed different things in their life,” Olsen said during his talk. “Maybe you needed to see the therapy videos, or maybe you just needed to laugh and watch me hang on to a pole.” 

The Student Endowed Centennial Leadership selected Olsen to speak after representatives from different student organizations nominated and advocated for several guest speakers. During last year’s event, SECL hosted Hank Green, a science content creator. 

Saylor Dement, the SECL representative for spirit organization Texas Sweethearts, said she advocated for Olsen because of his openness about his mental health and previous substance issues. 

“I really appreciated him talking about his substance misuse and being so vulnerable with his personal stories,” Dement said. “It’s super important to give people that space that they can communicate these things.”

Olsen has documented his journey to sobriety and his experiences in therapy on TikTok, frequently posting videos of his sessions to over ten million followers. 

“Those therapy videos specifically, I think they’re there for a laugh, but they’re also there to make you feel not alone,” Olsen said. “Whether I’m going through something that you relate to, or maybe you’ve been scared of going to therapy and you realize that here’s what therapy can be, and it’s really not a scary thing.”

Olsen said he struggled with substance misuse in college, and went to rehab after his college roommate told him he could not be in her life if he didn’t seek help. He said that conversation was extremely difficult at the time, but it saved his life.

“If you have a friend who you’re really worried about, or if there’s anyone in your life that you’re worried about, the biggest fear you have is the confrontation with them,” Olsen said. “That will be extremely hard, but if they get to the other side in the way that you’re praying that they do, then they will thank you.”

Radio-television-film freshman Dylan Recker said she appreciated Olson’s honesty about his mental health journey. 

“To me, he’s this funny guy and (makes) these silly videos, but it was cool to see him talk about how just because his life looks so perfect on social media, he goes through a lot of hardships just like a normal person,” Recker said.

Olsen also discussed the future of his coffee brand Flight Fuel, whose name was inspired by his flying for coffee series. 

“It’s been really exciting, it’s a lot to take on, because I’m literally running a business,” Olsen said. “I’m the true definition of girlboss.”