OBJECTIVE : The psychiatrist workforce has been identified as an area in need of development, especially in low- to middle-income countries. The purpose of this project is to assess the perceptions of Ghanaian medical students of a novel mental health inter-medical school speaking competition on career interest in psychiatry and mental health education and advocacy. METHODS : The study employed quantitative and qualitative methods in a cross-sectional design. A paper-based survey was administered to medical students from four schools in Ghana, and focus groups were conducted. RESULTS : A 52% response rate (545/1041 fifth- and sixth-year medical students from the four public medical schools in Ghana) was achieved. The competition was successful in stimulating interest in psychiatry as a subject (25%) and as a career (14%) and was viewed as serving an important public health and mental health advocacy function (65% and 66% respectively). The competition stimulated interest in students who were undecided or had previously ruled out psychiatry specialization, in both those who had and had not already completed a psychiatry clerkship (23% and 13% before and after completing a clinical rotation in psychiatry, respectively). Overall, 29% of respondents who participated in at least one competition-related activity reported that the competition stimulated their interest in psychiatry, compared to 4% who did not participate in any competition-related activity (Ӽ2 = 80, p = 0.0). Analysis of focus group content echoed these themes and highlighted opportunities for improvement. CONCLUSIONS : The innovative public speaking competition was successful in stimulating interest in psychiatry and furthering mental health education and advocacy. Implications are discussed.