This Is Why Valium Is Trending On Twitter

If you were taking a productivity break and perusing Twitter today, you may have noticed that Valium had something of a moment on the social platform. After footage went around of Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts telling Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to "take a Valium" during a confirmation hearing, the drug quickly began trending on Twitter. The senators were at a confirmation hearing for Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for treasury secretary, when Roberts directed an ill-advised joke at Wyden. "Senator Wyden, I've got a Valium pill here that you might want to take before the second round," Roberts said, while reaching into his pocket and mock-reaching for a pill. "Just a suggestion, sir."
Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown promptly fired back, telling Roberts, "I hope this doesn't set the tone for the session... I just can’t quite believe that he would say that to a distinguished senator. This is outrageous." To which Roberts retorted, "I don't know about 'outrageous,' but I think just a little pinprick of humor might help this committee from time to time." For those who may be unfamiliar, Valium is a sedative that is used to treat conditions such as muscle spasms, seizures, and even anxiety. For Roberts to use it as the punchline of a joke furthers the stigma of psychiatric medication and sets us back by contributing to the overall stigma against mental health disorders. Elsewhere on Twitter, users began commenting on the situation, some with their own "pinprick of humor."
Roberts meant his comment to be a joke, but that's exactly the problem — using mental illness and treatment for mental illness as a punchline only further stigmatizes and shames those who actually struggle. Let's hope that this hearing doesn't set the tone for what's to happen in the coming years.

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