Throughout his life, Dunnu Devulapally has seen first-hand the struggles that can be caused by mental health issues. It’s something he has dealt with personally, having an early identity crisis stemming from being a first-generation American, then later struggling with substance abuse as high school student. It’s also something that has caused him to lose numerous friends later on in his life.
“I lost a ton of friends to various mental health issues,” Devulapally told Dallas Innovates. “It has been something that’s rocked my life.”
But instead of being consumed with grief, Devulapally is looking to use his experience to help others who deal with mental health issues. After forming it in May, Devulapally is launching new Dallas-based research nonprofit NRVE this weekend. He hopes it will become a go-to hub to accelerate other initiatives in the mental health space.
“What’s really lacking is a lot of people go into an industry believing they’re the solution or that they know the solution already, versus saying, ‘Let’s garner a lot of information on the industry as a whole,’” Devulapally said, and then use that data to “really target certain facets, which could get results faster.”
NRVE to focus on six key areas
Initially aiming to focus on something that hit him personally—tackling the rise in opioid use—Devulapally began meeting with mentors, friends who would eventually join, and community members, NRVE decided to broaden its efforts. Targeting younger generations, the nonprofit now has six areas it’s digging into: awareness in youth, support for veterans, support for homeless people, and research for substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide prevention.
“These are causes that are very important to all of us personally,” Devulapally said. “We want to use that first year as kind of an opportunity to really understand ourselves.”
Devulapally said NRVE will begin by diving into those six areas, seeing what mental health needs are required in different geographies across the country and using the information it gathers to drive future efforts. Ultimately, he hopes to create a brand and community built around the nonprofit to raise awareness of the issues it’s looking to tackle.
Changing sentiments as well as the ecosystem as a whole
“In the nonprofit world, there aren’t those recognizable names like we have in the for-profit world, where you have Apple, Facebook, and Amazon,” Devulapally said. “We really think that if organizations restructure the way that they position themselves to society, that’ll really shift the way that people’s sentiment revolves around nonprofits. And that’ll change a lot of the ecosystem as a whole.”
With the information it collects, NRVE plans to become the “Google” for the mental health space, collecting and disseminating findings to help other groups and nonprofits better focus and accelerate their own initiatives.
“If we can really interface and slowly build a long-game, kind of like an Oracle if you will, for the industry having those large packets of data to understand what the problems are as a whole,” Devulapally said. “And then, you can quite literally interface with the industry as a whole to get it to be able to solve problems collectively better.”
NRVE launches this Saturday
NRVE is officially set to launch on Saturday. It will kick off with an awareness-raising 40-mile bike ride between downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. The ride was organized by both NRVE and Holistic Health, an e-commerce brand led by Devulapally that will help raise money for NRVE. The day will culminate in a black-tie gala Saturday night featuring a silent auction and live performances from local artists, along with wine and bites “from around the world.”
Devulapally said the goal of the event is to raise $10,000 to support NRVE’s efforts. With that funding, the nonprofit aims to launch its first two initiatives in the coming year. Going back to the initial focus Devulapally had when first forming NRVE, one of the initiatives will work to help supply Fort Worth’s police force with Narcan—an opioid overdose-reversing drug—to carry in their squad cars and on their person. The other will focus on helping to supply socks to homeless people in Southern Dallas, something Devulapally says is a much-needed article of clothing for that population. In addition, the organization is looking to launch Rocky—a dog mascot for NRVE that the nonprofit plans to generate content and programming around—in order to raise more awareness around mental health issues.
“I want NRVE to eventually evolve into a repository, a database of natural-based information that could be interfaced with by many organizations. My goal for the future is to be that entity that can speed up the process, so we can solve problems faster,” Devulapally said. “I want us to really serve as if anyone had something they want to solve, they could, in theory, come to this in a simple way and crank out an answer based on the data that’s available.”
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