Internationally there is a shortage of psychiatrists, whilst clinical psychology training is generally oversubscribed. School students interested in psychological health may not be aware of the possibility of studying medicine before specialising in psychiatry. This has implications for the mental health workforce. To evaluate the knowledge and attitudes relating to a potential career in psychiatry amongst secondary (high) school students. A cross-sectional survey evaluated attitudes and knowledge relating to psychiatry and clinical psychology, targeting students from five schools who were studying chemistry, biology and/or psychology at an advanced level. 186 students completed the survey (response rate 41%). Knowledge was generally poor with only 57% of respondents knowing that psychiatrists had medical degrees, and most participants substantially underestimating the salaries of consultant psychiatrists. Attitudinal response patterns were explained by two underlying factors, relating to generally negative attitudes towards psychiatry and positive attitudes towards the effectiveness of psychiatric treatments. Females and those studying psychology reported more positive attitudes towards psychiatry. Those studying chemistry reported more negative attitudes towards the effectiveness of mental health treatment. Studying psychology predicted positive attitudes towards psychiatry. Such students could be targeted by recruitment campaigns, which emphasise factual information about the specialty.